The latest analysis of California’s high-speed rail system, called the “Repeat” report, again blasts its proponents rosy fiscal projections. Including the $50 ticket.
“CHSR’s claim that their HSR train will earn a 50% profit while charging half the PPM (per passenger mile) fares and incurring operating costs at a third or less PPM than the worldwide evidence is not reasonable: and it’s a prelude to serious fiscal trouble,” the report says.
When voters approved HSR, I focused on the benefits to Stockton. A $50 ticket to L.A. and a two-hour ride; economic benefits to this city roughly equivalent to aligning a new freeway through the city.
But California’s HSR boxed itself in from the start: “the untenable position of having to compete in California’s extremely cheap transportation marketplace while simultaneously meeting AB3034’s requirement to be profitable.”
Autos are still relatively cheap, the airline market is cutthroat, yet the system has to attract something like 75 percent ridership to keep tickets low. All the while the High-Speed Rail Authority is seriously lo-balling what this thing is going to cost to operate and maintain.
What will a ticket really have to cost to pay the system’s expenses? try $340.
“Immediately the train becomes the purview of the affluent and the high-end business traveler,” the report says. “That’s already the case in Europe.”
The figures vary from study to study. However the preponderance of evidence strongly suggests ticket prices will be beyond the reach of middle-class travelers. Meaning the state will either build a system that requires perpetual subsidy or it will use public funds regressively to build a system that serves the affluent.
Read the Executive Summary To Repeat Report.