SmartSkyways Now 
For the Automated Guideway Transport Industry                                                                         October 2003  

AGT Articles

Skyways Feature

Polling Results

The California Transportation Market

A "Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond

Act for the 21st Century" is going to be on the November 2, 2004 California election ballot. It would authorize $9 billion of state bonds to build a French type high speed train line from downtown San Francisco to Union Station in Los Angeles, with an additional $950 million to improve current rail feeder lines. Trip time would be a maximum of2 hrs. and 42 min.

The internal rate of return is estimated to be 8.8%. Since 75% of the benefits, however, are externalities rather than passenger revenue, the accounting is unlikely to survive attack by considering alternatives. The last train act on the ballot lost by 80%.

It would be nice to see a PRT/DM alternative as the "real form of 21st Century transportation" become part of the public debate around this referendum. The seed of a proposal for the Bay Area I made above would need to be expanded to the point of including at least Southern California and the San Joaquin Valley to match the scope of the high speed rail proposal. The $9.95 billion price tag is an appropriate figure to represent the amount that needs to be constructively spent to seriously enter the California transportation market.