High Speed Rail Critics Assail Ridership Projections

The number of riders on the high speed rail line that will eventually connect Los Angeles and San Francisco are either too high, or too low, a new UC Berkeley study finds.

The High Speed Rail Authority is set to hear from researchers next week who question the accuracy of estimates being used to gauge environmental impact and guide other decisions related to the project.

The director of Cal’s Institute of Transportation Studies, Samer Madanat, said a review requested by the state Senate uncovered “technical flaws” in the models developed by the contractor, Cambridge Systematics.

“They made a number of decisions, a small number of decisions, that led to a model that I would describe now as unreliable,” Madanat said.

That means healthy profits or severe losses for a rail line whose bullet trains will travel 220 miles per hour depend on reliable access to the stations, said Charles Marsala of the Atherton City Council.

“How are these facilities going to transform themselves into mini-airports? If they don’t then ridership doesn’t meet the expectations.”

The state has been awarded 2.25 billion dollars in stimulus finds for high speed trains, but Marsala said not enough study has been done.

“Studies should have been done that would indicate the total infrastructure needed to support these ridership numbers and the costs. And we’ve known that the cost of the ticket is already off by more than 50 percent,” he said.

  • Loren

    “Either too high or too low?”

    Wow. Great way of being right no matter how it turns out. *I* could have predicted that.

  • Charles


    There are no quotation marks around that sentence, which I agree with you does not make sense. I hope I did not say those exact words.

    The ridership numbers given out in 2008 were too high. There will be no profits from High Speed Rail only losses (in my opinion). Many other expenses were left out of the projections.

    The bigger issue becomes that if we fund high speed rail, we do at the expense of not doing repair to the Delta Levees, the Hetch Hetchy pipeline, or many other projects. Or we have to factor in the for every dollar the state budget would be increased to fund HSR forty percent would go to education. So to net $10B you have to raise over $16B.

  • John

    California is know for wasting money on idot projects. I I am a fan of Amtrak, but not a fan of this project. It is a waste of money, that should be spent on other projects like our schools and securing our borders to keep out illegals.

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