By The Bakersfield Californian
Assemblywoman Shannon Grove recommends that, rather than building high-speed rail, we simply fix our roads and freeways, but this suggestion is neither easy nor economical. The future growing population demands that we find a way to move people around our state -- in a sustainable, innovative way. If we expand airports and build wider freeways it would cost California almost twice as much as Phase 1 of the high-speed rail system. Building more freeways and airports commits us to a future dictated by foreign oil.
Unlike spending on roads, investing in true high‐speed rail systems will bring a profit and will therefore not require ongoing government subsidies. That is true of the high‐speed rail experience around the world. Every existing high‐speed train system in operation around the world generates a profit from its operations. Two lines -- the Tokyo‐to‐Osaka and Paris‐to‐Lyon lines -- have even made enough profit to pay back the cost of their initial infrastructure investment.
California's initial construction segment, which begins the backbone of the track in the Central Valley, is already fully funded. The Business Plan assumes no additional federal funding before 2014. And the Authority was very conservative in estimating just how much of this project the federal government will have the will to fund. We know from other nations around the world that this funding plan works -- and works well. And we know just how valuable these high-speed rail projects are to their economies and their ways of life.
THOMAS J. UMBERG
California High-Speed Rail Authority