Efficient High Speed Intercity Rail Transit: The Transit Coalition supports a fast, safe, convenient, affordable and reliable alternative to unpredictable gas prices, traffic congestion, airport delays, and plummeting airline service and supports rail systems that are planned and developed in the most efficient manner. TTC supported the passage of Proposition 1A, the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act which provided $9.95 billion in seed money toward the development of California's high speed rail network, which promised to link the Inland Empire to California's major urban centers and points in between.
The proposed high speed rail system needs to be developed and coordinated with the existing systems. This includes the existing Metrolink and Amtrak routes. Separated grade crossings, positive train control, upgraded rail cars, and proper combination of a blended system with new infrastructure are necessary to allow high speed trains to quickly connect the cities of California. Through the urban areas the trains can share the right of way of existing railways to minimize the need for new alignments and impacts on existing communities. Where possible in the Central Valley, the trunk of the high speed line should be outside urban areas to sustain high speeds for through trains, with local downtown stations served by loops from the mainline. The Central Valley alignment must work in concert with agricultural preservation, which would include utilizing existing right of ways. Permanent agricultural easements should be placed along the railway to ensure sprawl does not endanger farmlands. This also prevents potential urban sprawl.
Fiscal Madness from the California High Speed Rail Authority:
The plans from the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) don't match financial reality. The risks of having taxpayer money spent on the project and not having an efficient business plan is drastic. TTC continues to take critical looks into CHSRA proposals. The latest 2012 CHSRA Business Plan calls for a $68 billion project cost.
Construction of the initial operating section of the CHSRA system, slated for the Central Valley area, is fast approaching, yet mired in litigation with valid concerns and points. CHSRA has proposed what is essentially a second rail system for the central valley, duplicating existing usable infrastructure.
We believe that public transportation projects need to be both cost-effective and non-disruptive to the communities they serve. The next few months will be crucial.
High Speed Rail Done Right in the Inland Empire:
Rails to SW Riverside County via I-15/I-215 Corridors:
Two CHSRA project-level alternatives are being considered between the Ontario Airport and Murrieta high speed rail stations. One alternative would follow the I-15 Freeway, while the other alternative would use the I-215 Freeway. TTC believes it is far too early to endorse either alignment for the CHSRA project, however supports the extension of rail service for both corridors based on previous local feasibility studies. We believe that the private sector should be invited to take responsibility of future analysis. Any HSR alignments following I-215 should not duplicate the planned Perris Valley Line corridor; through-trains should utilize the right-of-way to keep project costs down.
Take the Train to Work from SW Riverside to San Diego County:
Prioritizing the CHSRA Los Angeles - San Diego HSR segment for the I-15 commuter corridor between Riverside County and San Diego would possibly create productive commuter HSR service as a first stage and would therefore allow private capital to define an affordable HSR link for the remainder of the San Diego to Los Angeles HSR project. Tax and zoning incentives should be offered to attract private rail developers as travel demand is sufficient.
Closing the Los Angeles-Bakersfield Rail Gap via the Grapevine & Tejon Pass: The Train Riders Association of California is aiming to have a HSR segment connect Los Angeles to Bakersfield directly without a deviation to Palmdale which could significantly cut down travel trip times for the CHSRA network and close a direct rail gap between LA and the Central Valley. A Bay Area aerospace engineer Clem Tillier estimates a $5 billion cost savings. Officials should allow the private sector to get involved in exploring ways to close the gap to lure private capital investments.
TTC Comments Submitted to CHSRA:
Check out our comments that were written to the CHSRA during the public comment phase for the project-level EIR/EIS (View here).
Las Vegas HSR: XpressWest
(Palmdale - Victorville - Las Vegas):
Once known as the DesertXpress, the XpressWest is a private sector, interstate high-speed rail project, which promises to connect travelers between Southern California, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Denver. The Southern California branch will stop in Victorville and Palmdale with connections to LA (direct or transfer). The first phase of the XpressWest line will link travelers between Las Vegas and Victorville with an estimated trip time of 1 hour and 20 minutes.
A 35-year $5.5 billion loan from the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program combined with $1.4 billion in private investments were to finance the project, but the federal government recently suspended the loan process. The feds responded that the application was suspended in part due to the project not following the "Buy America" policy which required applicants to use American-made products.
The Coalition advocates for public officials to clear the way for the operation of private sector feeder routes with timed connections for the starting Victorville station should XpressWest take off. The usage policy for the proposed I-15 Express Lanes through the Cajon Pass should be compatible for private sector buses and allow for non-transponder HOV usage with transit infrastructure to the high speed rail station. The private sector should also be invited to take responsibility of generating innovative ideas such as linear synchronous motors to speed up passenger trains via the steep grades of the Cajon Pass which could entice DesertXpress Enterprises LLC to extend the line south the Inland Empire's rail system.
The Transit Coalition is an entirely grassroots campaign, supported by the time and resources given by concerned citizens. With your support, you can help us develop a robust high speed rail system done right!
The Transit Coalition is a non-profit public charity exempt from federal income tax under Section 501[c](3) of the Internal Revenue Service.
The Transit Coalition are not affiliated with any public entity or private organization.
The Transit Coalition | Post Office Box 567 | San Fernando, CA 91341-0567
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