California High-Speed Rail is for Everyone
California faces a critical decision this spring. Its choice will have a big impact on the future of passenger rail and transit nationwide.
It’s urgent that you get your friends in California involved right now.
The California Assembly has the power to release more than $4 billion in voter-approved funds to continue towards electrified high-speed trains linking Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than 3 hours.
If they vote yes, the first segment of high-speed line in the United States will open in this decade. And the critical links between the valleys will be prepared for construction.
This first segment will link Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield in the Central Valley, a densely populated region of 4 million people that encompasses nine counties and is roughly the size of South Carolina. The area’s higher-education consortium has 25 member institutions.
Trip time will be cut in half, from 3 hours to just 90 minutes, and the daily roundtrips will increase from 7 to 18.
The line will turbo-charge the state’s already robust public transit network.
California leads the nation in building forward-thinking transit and passenger rail systems. Metrolink, which serves the Los Angeles region, is in the midst of a major upgrade. The Pacific Surfliner and Capitol Corridor lines are the two most popular Amtrak routes in America.
But what’s most remarkable isn’t an individual line or transit system. It’s the way the whole system is integrated. For example, Metrolink feeds into the Pacific Surfliner, and vice versa. And California has a big-picture plan for making the state’s entire transportation system progressively more coordinated.
Along with coordinated schedules, frequency is a huge driver of demand. With high-speed rail, daily departures on the highly successful Thruway bus routes will also be increased to 18. And more routes to multiple points would likely be feasible. At Merced, ACE and Amtrak service will be expanded to a combined 18 departures, branching to Oakland, Sacramento and San Jose.
With these upgrades, ridership would double, revenue would more than double, and the state’s share of operating the trains would drop.
The Central Valley segment will be a game-changer for California. And the Assembly’s yes vote will send a powerful signal to D.C. as the future of transportation is being debated.
Unfortunately, important members of the Assembly are hung up on choices made years ago that have delayed construction. They might delay the project even further by withholding funds at this critical time.
If they are successful, it could mean the end of high-speed rail in California. And it would be a huge set back for the rest of the country.
Other high-speed lines are in the planning stages. But only California is actually building one. The state’s huge footprint will blaze a path for high-speed trains across the nation. California high-speed rail is driving updates and modernization of outdated regulations, which are currently a big, under-the-radar obstacle. It’s also building a broad foundation of knowledge and expertise to guide future high-speed rail projects. And it’s the best opportunity for Americans to experience what high-speed rail can mean to regional economies.
The current debate in Congress over infrastructure is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. This is no time for timidity and limited ambitions. It’s time to push for a paradigm-shifting investment in rail. A strong vote of support is needed from the California Assembly to push California into the future and lead the nation on this issue.
If you live in California, please contact your representatives in the state legislature and in Congress. If not, get friends and acquaintances who live there to get involved. Urge them to sign this petition and get ready for a major push on Earth Day.