Poll: 31% of Californians approve of bullet train funding
- A poll conducted by the University of Southern California and the Los Angeles Times found that only 31% of California voters are in favor of contributing additional state funds to the $77 billion bullet train that will one day connect the San Francisco Bay area to Anaheim, according to the Times. Another 49% said they would stop construction given rising costs.
- Early beneficiaries of the rail's first segment near San Francisco showed the strongest support, while Los Angeles voters were less enthusiastic about rail service that won't likely be available to them until 2033. While 50% of respondents said they are in favor of high-speed rail, the survey results reveal the public doubts the California High-Speed Rail Authority's ability to deliver.
- Authority officials said the poll results were "good news" and proved that the public was still behind the concept of high-speed rail despite the obstacles laid out in the project's 2018 business plan.
The San Francisco-to-Anaheim bullet train has been plagued with delays and cost overruns. High-speed rail service has been delayed four years for the first segment, which is now scheduled to open in 2029, and the authority's best estimate is that the entire project won't be operational until 2033. However, that date is contingent on the authority being able to efficiently and quickly tunnel through mountain ranges north of Los Angeles, a process that some experts have said will take decades given current technology.
Costs for the rail have also skyrocketed and are almost twice the original estimate of $40 billion. The price tag could hit $98 billion by the time the project is complete, but, according to the authority's business plan, funding has not been secured to finish construction.
The bullet train has endured the spotlight of public scrutiny because the project is being funded by taxpayer dollars, both federal and state, including a $3.5 billion grant that the U.S. Department of Transportation announced will be audited by its Office of Inspector General.
But unlike the California project, Texas Central Partners' planned 15 billion high-speed rail connection between Dallas and Houston is being privately financed. That means state input into the rail's construction and operations will be limited. However, Texas lawmakers last year passed two bills regarding the project — one related to safety and another preventing the use of public funds if the rail hits a rough financial patch in the future.
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