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Reason Foundation

The California High-Speed Rail Proposal: A Due Diligence Report

Policy Study 370

Joseph Vranich, Wendell Cox and Adrian Moore
September 1, 2008

With the high costs of building in California and the history of cost overruns on rail projects, the final price tag for the complete high-speed rail system will actually be $65 to $81 billion, according to the Reason Foundation report.

And while the Rail Authority forecasts between 65 and 96 million intercity riders by 2030, the due diligence report finds these projections are dramatically inflated. After compiling numerous ridership studies previously conducted for California rail systems, the study demonstrates the state can expect 23 million to 31 million riders a year in 2030.

Any failure to meet the Rail Authority's lofty ridership projections would force ticket-price increases, further cutting ridership, or require taxpayer subsidies to cover the financial shortfall, adding to future budget deficits. The due diligence report finds "the San Francisco-Los Angeles line alone by 2030 would suffer annual financial losses of up to $4.17 billion."


Adrian Moore is Vice President, Policy

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