Electric-powered California High Speed Rail is the best transportation alternative between corridors of large cities within the state. Its high-speed, high-capacity & high-frequency compliments Amtrak, Commuter Rail, Metro Rail, Rapid Buses and Highways. It allows airports to focus resources on what they do best — longer flights. By optimizing Airports, High Speed Rail, Amtrak Regional Rail, Commuter Rail, Metro Rail, Buses and Highways, California can also gain transformational mobility that mitigates congestion, cuts smog and battles Climate Change, like advanced countries in Europe and Asia.
Population Growth Straining California Freeways and Airports
In 1980, California freeways and airports matched population well. Travelers could drive 400 miles between Downtown Los Angeles and Downtown San Francisco in 5 1/2 hours with a break in between. Travelers could arrive at SFO or LAX airport, purchase a ticket, breeze through security, board a plane, fly to SF or LA and walk to inside-airport terminal rental car centers — in 2 1/2 hours.
California population growth, as measured by Statista and forecast by Public Policy Institute of California, paints an unpleasant picture for freeways and airports, if passenger rail alternatives are not developed:
1980 23.7 million
1990 29.8 million
2000 33.9 million
2010 37.3 million
2020 40.7 million
2030 44.1 million
2040 47.6 million
By 2019, metro area populations swelled to 18.8M in Los Angeles, 7.7M in San Francisco Bay, 3.9M in San Diego and 2.2M in Sacramento. The last 40 years of population growth means more people drive and and fly over longer travel times.
Though airline ticketing is available online, more vehicles clog airport roadway. There are longer lines for security screening. Boarding/unboarding, usually through one jet door, costs valuable time, along with more runway taxi time for jets. Most rental cars centers have moved away from airport terminals costing time as well. Since there are vastly more Northern California-Southern California flights, they produce significantly more smog and Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and travel time for in-state flights now ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 hours.
For travelers who choose Northern California-Southern California freeway driving, congestion and Slow Zones for freeway repair have increased travel time from 5.5 hours to 6.5 hours. The same drive during holidays is an 8-hour nightmare. On the ground, freight trucks produce the most airborne emissions. Freeway congestion delay triggers even more freight truck emissions.
Flights between Los Angeles and San Francisco are the second busiest in America, transporting over 8 million passengers annually. They are also the most delayed in the country — one of every four flights are late. LAX and SFO are the 2nd and 7th busiest airports in America, are respectively. Given the cap on runways, airlines are scheduling more Boeing and Airbus long distance flights in place of regional flights.
California Freeway Widening Becoming Fool’s Gold
No state has expanded as many freeways, nor added as many HOV lanes as California. Yet, Los Angeles and San Francisco are 2 of the 5 most roadway-congested cities in the world. Most freeway widenings in Greater LA and San Francisco Bay Area reached their maximum efficiency at 8 lanes around 1990. Ditto for San Diego by 2000 and Sacramento by 2005. Since then, widening freeways to 10-14 lanes in those metro areas has been like loosening your belt to treat obesity. Rush Hour speeds in San Francisco Bay Area are getting worse. LA suffers the same problem. A University of Southern California transportation study has measured the impact of inefficient capacity per lane. On the busiest 12-14-lane freeways in Los Angeles County, average speed is 21-25 mph during Rush Hour and getting worse.
A three-part answer explains why. The first part is population growth. Second, the mathematics of Queuing Theory explains that for each added freeway lane, drivers spend more time adjusting speeds and lateral motion for lane changing than forward motion. That reduces automotive thru-put per lane per hour. Third, added lanes psychologically induce more solo-driving to enjoy a slightly decongested freeway. In 2 years however, population growth increases the number of solo-drivers to reproduce congestion again. Widening beyond 1 HOV lane and 3 standard freeway lanes reduces capacity per lane per hour, which progressively worsens with each additional lane.
Fertile soil, sunny days and water from canal infrastructure make Central Valley one of the world’s great agricultural regions. Economic bounty from agriculture, freight rail, freight trucking and establishing three universities helped Central Valley towns sprout into mid-size cities in only 75 years. Now the U.S. Census Bureau forecasts Central Valley cities (Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Fresno, Hanford-Visalia-Porterville, Bakersfield, Palmdale) to add 10 million people between 2010-2040. Most Central Valley residents drive or ride by car to LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas. Conversely, Central Valley cities are gateways to most of California’s astonishing national parks. They attract drivers from Greater LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas.
Despite the modest growth rate of Central Valley cities, airlines cut flights from Greater LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas to them because they make more profit using runway slots and terminal gates for bigger planes carrying longer flights. Since flights to Central Valley cities are a vanishing option, I-5 and SR-99 freeway congestion between LA and San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento is growing. That’s a big deal because intercity driving is a big contributor to traffic congestion costs California residents $28 billion/year in lost time and wasted fuel.
California Transportation Greenhouse Gases Contribute to Climate Change
California acquired the nickname “Golden State” due to golden brush populating its magnificent hillsides and the many sunny days lighting them. Given alternating drought conditions and the increase of deadly wildfires fueled by ignitable brush and rising temperatures in the last 15 years, you no longer have to convince most Californians that the negative effects of Climate Change have arrived. Rising Carbon Dioxide, Methane Gas and Nitrous Oxide are the primary Greenhouse Gases (GHG) trapping heat in the atmosphere. In America, Transportation sector is the largest contributor to GHG emissions.
The most recent chart (below) from U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) illustrates state-by-state Carbon Dioxide numbers. As the two most populous states with the most solo-drivers, short flights, freight rail and freight trucking, Texas and California generate the most GHG from transportation. In California, the numbers include significant emissions from cargo ships at seaports.
The Union of Concerned Scientists sounds the alarm bell that America must cut GHG emissions by 56% from 2005 by 2030 or we will be responsible for more frequent wildfires, droughts, floods, hurricanes and other negative results from Climate Change. The good news is Transportation is an economic sector where we can make huge GHG reductions by 2030, while improving economic productivity for Knowledge Workers at the same time.
California Transportation Smog Has Lowered, But Not Enough to Reduce Lung Disease
Like GHG emissions, most smog is transportation-related. Smog has bedeviled California cities since automobiles become more prominent in the 1930s. In response, the state is leading America’s most aggressive initiatives to reduce Smog and GHG emissions from cars, light trucks, buses, freight trucks, freight rail, airports and seaports. Californians are also adopting electric cars at a faster pace than most states. Excluding wildfire days, the air in Greater LA is no longer brown on sunny days. But it still gets hazy.
Despite smog reduction progress by cars, buses, freight rail and seaports, California cities still dominate the American Lung Association list of metro areas suffering the nation’s worst ozone pollution — the main component of smog. High smog levels trigger higher levels of asthma and other lung diseases among populations within a mile of freeways, airports and seaports.
California has a Central Valley running most of the state surrounded by mountain ranges to the west and east. The combination of airborne emissions from transportation & farming, surrounding mountains, in-bound marine clouds from the Pacific Ocean, many days of sunlight and warm temperature creates inversion layers that trap smog. Despite lower polluting cars, buses and trains, as California’s average heat levels rises, it is more difficult to eliminate inversion layers. That is why 90% of Californians live in unhealthy air counties per EPA standards — particularly those in Greater LA, San Francisco Bay and San Diego metro areas, and the Central Valley.
California and the rest of the nation are not doing enough to reduce smog & GHG emissions, particularly from regional flights, freight trucking and solo-driving. In terms of transportation smog, we’re still gasping for clean air.
California Needs Green, Fast, High-Capacity, High Frequency Passenger Transportation
The State of California is fighting to lower GHG emissions contributing to Climate Change, smog contributing to lung diseases, and population growth congesting highways. That is why in 2008, California voters authorized a $9.95 billion bond to kickstart the electric-powered, high-speed, high-capacity, high frequency rail system to be built in two phases:
520-mile Phase 1 (San Francisco-San Jose-Gilroy-Central Valley-Burbank-Los Angeles-Anaheim)
280-mile Phase 2 (Merced-Sacramento and Los Angeles-San Diego extensions)
California HSR will be capable of 220 mph on Central Valley viaduct separated from automotive traffic and 90-110 mph through urban areas. In the Central Valley, California HSR track will be capable of 8 high speed trains per hour with commercial operation from 5am-Midnight. Once all over/underpasses are completed in urban areas, it will be capable of 97% on-time performance like other world-class HSR systems. At build out, California HSR will have over 35 million rider capacity to couple with over 12 million rider capacity from enhanced Amtrak California services. California HSR works in concert with increasing green mass transportation at each intermodal transportation hubs.
California HSR needs such speed, capacity, frequency and dependability to move over 50,000 riders/day who would otherwise clog freeways and consume airport resources better used for longer flights as national and international travel to California grows.
The system is being constructed by a “new” California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA). I emphasize “new” because the Authority made rookie mistakes underestimating costs, property acquisition and construction schedules that critics pounced on. Nevertheless, public outreach, feasibility studies, environmental studies, engineering design and enough property acquisition completed for the mega-project to break ground in January 2015.
In 2019, CHSRA arrived at a $79 billion Phase 1 cost estimate using 10 years of staff & consultant experience from HSR projects worldwide, and best practice in infrastructure cost & risk modeling via Monte Carlo Simulation. Phase 2 cost is TBD due to unknown start date and route alignments yet to be decided.
Though lengthy HSR viaduct is the most expensive component of Phase 1, long tunnels are the most challenging component because they have so many unknowns. Underground rivers, abandoned & unmapped utilities, surprise geological conditions like gas pockets, uncharted mines and historic artifacts undermine the best cost & schedule estimates. To reduce unknowns or as civil engineers like to say, “de-risk” tunneling projects, CHSRA has studied older rail tunnels in the same Northern and Southern California mountain ranges where HSR tunnels are planned. Geologists have taken deep core samples of planned alignments in those mountains. Swiss tunnel consultants who worked on the longest rail tunnels under the Alps have been contracted. Though all environmental studies complete in 2021, no long tunnel project can be fully de-risked until the boring completes. If costs rise, it will primarily be due to tunneling unknowns and funding delays that invite inflation.
Initial criticism of Phase 1 underestimated cost & schedule served a public good by forcing CHSRA to get its act together. Preying on the public’s lack of knowledge about infrastructure costs, California HSR critics repeat the same tropes in news media to dull the public’s judgment with lies, half-truths and opinion misrepresented as fact.
Bogus Criticisms of California High Speed Rail
• Its a Boondoggle Train to No Where
• There’s Little Value to Greater LA and San Francisco Bay Area
• Trains won’t go 200+ mph to meet Schedule Projections
• It Won’t Have Capacity to meet Ridership Projections
There is No Cost-effective Alternative to California HSR Phase 1
Critics however, can’t refute the compelling value proposition for California HSR. Eight of the nine largest California airports have no adjacent open land and reject taking land for runway expansion. Only Sacramento International Airport has open land to add runways and terminal gates. Airlines have canceled most San Francisco and Los Angeles flights to Central Valley cities. Five countries already operate HSR at 200-217 mph, and nextgen high speed trains have to been certified to operate up to 236 mph, if countries choose.
The state has already converted freeway medians to lanes throughout Greater LA, San Francisco Bay, San Diego and Sacramento metro areas. Land values are surging and the last “easy” freeway widenings complete by 2023-24. The Central Valley is on pace for 10 million population by 2040. More coastal Californians and visitors are clogging Central Valley freeways to reach our great national parks. Millennials want more passenger rail, less driving options.
Here are the compelling Tourism, Property Owner & Taxpayer reasons to fund California HSR. In 2018, Tourism generated over $140 billion general revenue, $12 billion in tax revenue, 1.2 million jobs and $6 of every $10 spent by travelers came from other states and countries. Most non-state travelers are from the Northeast, Asia and Europe, where they already prefer HSR, Intercity Rail, Commuter Rail and Metro Rail for travel under 500 miles. Polling of Millennial transportation preferences shows that they want less driving and more passenger rail options. Airlines to LA and San Francisco Bay Area airports are shifting from sub-500-mile flights to long distance flights using their finite number of runway slots. Residents and visitors took 361 million annual intra-state trips via all modes of travel in 2010. California intra-state travel is forecast to increase to 545 million trips annually by 2040. Even if airlines were not shifting away from short flights, California freeways and airports can not cost-effectively expand compared to the alternative.
In a report commissioned by the CHSRA, having access to State of California highway and aviation data, the cost of adding equivalent passenger capacity in freeways and airports is estimated to be:
$170 billion for 2300 new Freeway-lane miles + 115 Airport gates & 4 runways
$79 billion for California HSR Phase 1
Critics love to complain about California HSR cost and about CHSRA acquiring land for 2 lanes and 6 stations in the Central Valley. Now imagine the cost of carving or tunneling 8 new freeway lanes through the mountains of Angeles National Forest to reach Los Angeles and San Diego. Since the freeway & interchange alternative requires 4 times more land, the state highway department would have vastly more difficulty acquiring property. Moreover, lawsuits have already prevented and constrained airport expansion in LA, San Francisco Bay and San Diego.
Compared to the alternatives, California HSR is a lower resident tax, less-property required, less litigation, environmentally-friendly, high-capacity bargain to keep state tourism and tax revenues growing.
California HSR Door-to-Door Travel Time Advantage
Going from city-hub to city-hub in 3 hours or less has more benefits. Thousands of passengers arrive at city-hub stations by High Speed Rail (like TGV & Amtrak Acela), Intercity Passenger Rail (rest of Amtrak), Commuter Rail, Metro Rail, Bus Rapid Transit and shuttles instead of more low-capacity cars that congest freeways. The latter benefit is why California HSR, Amtrak, Commuter Rail, Metro Rail and Bus Rapid Transit qualify for state GHG Reduction funds. City-hub stations fill with lounges, cafes, artwork, business services and attract nearby hotels. Some have upscale shops and great plazas for people-watching as well. Patrons on mobile devices enjoy productive or relaxing travel time on trains.
Amtrak, Commuter Rail, Metro Rail, Buses & Shuttles Will Feed Patrons to California HSR
Despite setbacks, California HSR Phase 1 construction continues on the 119-mile Central Valley superstructure. That’s before additional federal and state funding is secured to extend that to 171 miles in the Central Valley. Greater LA and San Francisco Bay Area are the “Bookends” to California HSR Phase 1, 4 Amtrak lines, 3 Commuter Rail systems, and 4 Metro Rail systems.
Most track used by Amtrak California is limited by federal regulation and old signaling systems to 79 mph. Too much of its mileage has poor track conditions, track shared with freight trains and hairpin curves that limit speed to 49-59 mph. Even worse, Amtrak California has 1 track for 2-way traffic in too many places and too many railroad crossings where trains must slow for safety.
Significant improvement is on the way for 4 Amtrak California routes (Pacific Surfliner, Capital Corridor, San Joaquin Oakland, San Joaquin Sacramento) that have stations to be shared with California HSR.
Recently, the Bookends have been adding Positive Train Control technology to prevent train accidents. The state, commuter rail agencies and freight rail companies are partnering with Amtrak California to incrementally construct 2nd track, more siding track for idle or slow freight trains, overpasses/underpasses and signaling improvements each year.
Pacific Surfliner operates in the nation’s second busiest Amtrak route — 2.95 million annual riders. The southern portion of Pacific Surfliner operates between Downtown LA and San Diego at 49-90 mph and 13 weekday roundtrips in 2 hours 56 minutes travel time. Parallel to the tracks, I-5 Freeway has a weekday Los Angeles-San Diego 2 hours 30 minutes travel time and slowing from congestion. Projects are underway that will shave 20 minutes off Pacific Surfliner travel time and increase train frequency to attract more drivers from I-5.
Capitol Corridor has similar route upgrades and electric train plans for ridership improvements. Today, San Joaquin Oakland-Bakersfield shares the first chunk of its track with Capital Corridor up to Martinez, then proceeds separately to Stockton, Modesto, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Hanford and Bakersfield. Though Amtrak San Joaquin services will suffice with faster diesel-electric locomotives and route upgrades may boost Amtrak San Joaquin Oakland-Bakersfield and Amtrak San Joaquin Sacramento-Bakersfield to 90 mph and connect to the first 171 miles of California HSR at Merced Station.
The first intermodal transportation hubs to be shared with California HSR have already opened in San Francisco and Anaheim. Major upgrades to Los Angeles, San Jose and SFO Airport intermodal transportation hubs have begun final design and pre-engineering. Initial planning for Fresno, Bakersfield, Merced and Palmdale intermodal transportation hubs has also started.
Though not pictured on the map above, more Metro Rail, Bus Rapid Transit, Rapid Bus lines and Bikeways will make California HSR highly accessible as well. LA rapid transit network is expanding to 4 or 5 planned California HSR stations. Anaheim Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (ARTIC) is the Orange County hub between Amtrak, Metrolink, Disneyland & Anaheim Convention Center shuttles, regional buses and Taxi/Uber/Lyft today and California HSR in the future.
San Francisco Bay Area rapid transit network is expanding and will access four planned California HSR Stations. In 2018, Salesforce Transit Center completed in DT San Francisco for Greyhound, Megabus, Amtrak motorcoaches, regional buses, taxis, Uber/Lyft and bikeshare. When the tunnel extension to Salesforce Transit Center opens, its lower level will serve Caltrain commuter rail and eventually, California HSR and Amtrak. Salesforce Transit Center has been the catalyst to a redevelopment boom in that area of San Francisco. San Mateo and Burlingame railway overpasses will soon begin construction to unsnarl roadway traffic, while making Caltrain safer and quieter before California HSR service.
Here is a sample of Amtrak, Commuter Rail, Metro Heavy Rail and Metro Light Rail projects coming before California HSR Phase 1 completes:
2020-21 Google is building a 20,000-person village surrounding San Jose Diridon Transportation Center to ease employee transport from all parts of Northern California. Over 500 Small/Disadvantaged/Disabled Veteran businesses are working on California HSR project, earning over $251 million to date.
2022: CHSRA funding helps LA Metro completes an underground connector for two Light Rail lines that feed DT Los Angeles and Union Station. One of those lines serves USC campus and LA Coliseum to host the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. CHSRA funding helps Caltrain commuter rail complete electrification in San Francisco-San Jose corridor for faster, frequent, greener and quieter trains.
2024-25: California HSR funding helps complete railroad grade separations in Burbank-LA Union Station-Anaheim corridor for faster, quieter and safer Metrolink and Amtrak services. CHSRA funding helps complete San Jose Diridon Transportation Center upgrade for more frequent Caltrain, BART (Metro Heavy Rail), San Jose Light Rail, BRT, shuttles, taxis, local buses and bikeshare.
2026-27 CHSRA funding helps complete LA Union Station upgrade for ridership increases coming from LA Museum District, Beverly Hills, Century City, UCLA-Westwood, and other points of the compass. CHSRA funding helps complete a tunnel to Salesforce Transit Center in San Francisco, enabling electric Caltrain service in the entire San Francisco-San Jose-Gilroy corridor.
2030: More overpasses complete for Caltrain to increase frequency. Both California HSR and Caltrain reach 90 mph from San Francisco to San Jose and 110 mph from San Jose to Gilroy. Upgrades boost Metrolink to 90 mph and double frequency in its Chatsworth-Burbank-LA Union Station-Anaheim-Oceanside corridor and Sylmar-Burbank-LA Union Station-Anaheim-Oceanside corridor.
California HSR Design Benefits From Worldwide HSR Leaders
Transporting 10 billion passengers through earthquake country since 1964, Japan’s HSR system has never experienced a deadly accident due to technology or operator error. Shinkansen High Speed Trains (HST) are famous for running 12 cabin trains at 20 trains per hour with an earthquake warning system that automatically brakes trains in case of large earthquake. In 2011, the 9.0 Earthquake and Tsunami killed hundreds of people, washed away Sendai Airport and triggered a nuclear power plant meltdown. Japanese railway engineering design however, prevented a single HST in operation from derailing. After safety checks, Shinkansen HST returned to service hours later.
Since opening in 1981, France has never experienced a deadly HSR accident during commercial operation and only once in test mode. Their famed HSR system, the TGV, has set many train speed standards. German and British railway engineers have mastered connectivity and timed-transfers between HSR, Commuter Rail, Metro Rail and Trams (Light Rail) to maximize ridership and passenger convenience. The Swiss have built the world’s longest high-speed rail tunnels under the Alps, permitting HST speeds up to 155 mph through them.
High Speed Trains (HST) commercially operate at 155-217 mph. R&D is further improving HST with less aerodynamic drag, lower exterior noise and lower cabin noise at higher speeds. Over 2020-26, France, Japan, China, Spain, South Korea, Italy and United Kingdom will introduce HST that operate up to 224 mph with lower energy consumption per unit of speed as compared to current HST.
CHSRA is hiring some of their best railway and tunneling consultants to join with local geologists and civil engineers. The Authority plans to license a private HST operator to run HST at 220 mph in the Central Valley viaduct. Alstom Avelia Horizon is one of several candidate HST.
Once Federal Funding Steps Up, Big Private Funding Follows
In 2009-10, President Obama authorized $3.5 billion towards California HSR project. Since 2011, CHSRA bond money, state transportation, state environmental protection funds, regional taxes, county taxes, city & freight rail rights-of-way and naming rights fees are paying for most construction.
Google is buying property between San Jose Diridon Transportation Center and San Jose International Airport to gain a labor market advantage with more employees who take rapid transit or HSR to work and those who need to fly often. In San Francisco, Salesforce is paying $110 million for 25-year naming rights to what was formerly called Transbay Transit Center. Anaheim, San Jose, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Fresno, Burbank and Anaheim will entertain Transit Oriented Development and possibly, naming rights proposals.
The state, regional planing organizations and CHSRA have identified sufficient state and local funding for Amtrak Oakland and Amtrak Sacramento lines to meet up with California HSR Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield viaduct. It will complete many overpasses, 2-tracking, signaling and safety upgrades in the San Francisco Bay Area and Greater LA Bookends by summer 2028.
According to 2019 California HSR Business Plan Update, it will cost about $12 billion to go from San Jose to Gilroy and new Pacheco Pass tunnel to connect with Central Valley HSR viaduct near Merced (San Jose-Merced segment). Federal and state money must build this segment before big private investors jump in, beyond paying for station naming rights.
The California governor commits to build the Merced-Bakersfield HSR segment with a Merced spur attaching to Amtrak San Joaquin Oakland & Sacramento services. CHSRA will need nearly $12 billion from USDOT to build the San Jose-Merced/Madera HSR segment that will create a San Francisco-Bakersfield corridor, plus the Merced spur.
Around the world in democratic nations, most 155+ mph HSR routes in 10 million-person corridors generate operating profit in 5-7 years. Those conditions will entice big private investors buying bonds to join federal and state funding sources. Those monies would then build:
• Bakersfield-Palmdale segment ($13 billion), connecting CHSR to a Metrolink commuter rail hub
• Palmdale-Burbank segment ($17 billion) containing the longest HSR tunnel in California
Ideally, both segments should enter construction at the same time to limit cost inflation.
The state is not asking for a federal hand-out. In the last 40 years, California taxpayers have given far more than they receive from the federal government. If California HSR project received $35 billion from the U.S. Department of Transportation, California would still be a donor state to the U.S. Treasury.
Conclusion — Voters Want A Big Transportation Infrastructure Deal
Infrastructure investment is the one area of unanimous support by voters regardless of party preference. Commuters want it to reduce traffic congestion. Trade unions want it for jobs. Corporations want it so employees can get to work easier. Manufacturers want it for better logistics and lower shipping costs. Agribusiness wants it for more water. Chambers of Commerce want it for more economic activity and Transit Oriented Development. Environmentalists want it to mitigate GHG. Health care providers want it to cut smog that leads to lung disease.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis and International Monetary Fund reports that American GDP was $19.4 Trillion in 2017 and California’s GDP was equivalent to the United Kingdom. Understanding the size of our economy and governors reminding him about infrastructure project backlog, the new president appeared to want a trillion dollar U.S. Infrastructure Bill in 2017. For reasons unclear, the President did not convince his Congressional-majority party to sign off.
2020 Presidential candidates are educating million of voters that fixing old and building new infrastructure will create millions of good-paying jobs. However the election turns out, its high probability that a large Infrastructure Bill will pass in 2021. California is among the states demanding large investment in HSR, Amtrak, Commuter Rail and Metro Rail projects. The timing is critical for CHSRA because in 2021, Environmental Impact Reports complete for all viaduct and tunnel segments in California HSR Phase 1.
San Francisco Bay Area and Greater LA Bookends will benefit from enhanced commuter rail in corridors to be shared with California HSR later. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner will benefit from enhanced Burbank Airport-LA Union Station-Anaheim corridor segment to be shared with California High Speed Rail later. Virgin Trains Las Vegas-Los Angeles HSR project is gaining funding momentum . It plans to use Palmdale-Burbank Airport-LA Union Station corridor segment to be shared with California HSR later. All those passenger rail services will make visionary investment pay-off for commuters and travelers, just as visionary investment paid off for Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge. In the 1920s, short-sighted critics called them a boondoggle too.
Our federal leaders must regain the courage of visionaries who built great bridges, airports, tunnels and dams long ago. They must return to an era like the 1970s, when America invested 3.5% of GDP in Transportation to boost productivity. When they do, it will not be strange for the feds to invest up to $100 billion in California, Northeast Corridor, Las Vegas-LA, Texas, Midwest and Northwest HSR.