Previously, I have criticized the proposed California high speed rail line (from San Diego to San Francisco) as grossly underestimating potential costs. Brian Doherty has an article this week reality-checking its projected ridership, after the California legislative analysts' office questioned the contingency analysis in the high-speed rail plan.
Eric Thronson, a fiscal and policy analyst for the office, called a risk assessment in the business plan "incomplete and inappropriate for a project of this magnitude.''
Thronson warned that there is no backup plan to keep the rail system solvent if it fails to draw 41 million people yearly. A bond measure approved by voters to help pay for the train network prohibits public funds from being spent on operating costs.
Doherty provides this reality check:
The future: where all of California's fiscal messes wait to be addressed! By the way, that ridership figure of 41 million averages to over 112,000 train riders every single day of the year. The average daily usage of I-5--the entire road--is around 71,000, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Here are a couple of other reality checks
- The entire passenger traffic from LAX to and from every other city in the country is 44 million a year (excludes international passengers)
- The current air passenger traffic between LAX and SFO is 2.7 million a year
- The passenger traffic of Amtrak in its entire national network is 28.7 million (including local commuter operations)