Monday, November 10, 2008

California High-Speed Plan Bullish on Ridership

By 2030, the proposed California high-speed rail network will carry 55 million passengers annually and generate a $1 billion operating surplus according to a business plan released by the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

The plan was released days after voters in the Golden State approved a ballot proposition authorizing the Authority to issue nearly $10 billion of bonds to help finance the project. Initially, the Authority will dip its toe into the bond market. It plans to raise $29 million early next year and another $50 million for the 2009-10 fiscal year.

The money would be used to complete the engineering work and planning for the service. The authority hopes to break ground in the latter half of 2010 and commence train operations eight years later.

However, conservative critics and opponents of the train, such as the Reason Foundation, charge the authority has underestimated construction costs while overestimating ridership.

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