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Labor's Edge: Views from the California Labor Movement

Governor, High-Speed Rail Authority Set Bold Course Forward with New High-Speed Rail Business Plan

By Steve Smith, California Labor Federation

The new high-speed rail business plan sums it up pretty well in the first three words: Better. Faster. Cheaper.

Under Gov. Brown’s direction, the California High-Speed Rail Authority has made key improvements to previous plans, bringing us one step closer to making the vision of high-speed rail – and all its benefits to our economy and environment – a reality.

The new business plan addresses two of the biggest challenges for high-speed rail head on: cost and viability. Through the use of existing commuter lines and other cost-saving measures, the new plan shaves a whopping $30 billion off the overall cost of the project. In addition, the new plan connects the Central Valley with the Los Angeles basin in the first phase of the project, which will increase ridership early on.

Governor Jerry Brown:

In 10 years, Californians will be able to travel through the Central Valley and into the Los Angeles Basin in half the time it takes to drive. This revised plan is bold, practical and puts California out in front once again.

The new plan calls for construction to begin right away, leading to a fully functional high-speed rail between Merced and the San Fernando Valley in 10 years. The Authority says the new plan also makes important improvements in the safety and efficiency of existing rail systems, allowing for integration down the line.

Authority Chairman Dan Richard:

Drawing on hundreds of public comments as well as the expertise of our technical staff, we were able to refine our thinking and improve the plan enormously. The revised plan will enhance local rail service immediately and, in the long term, cut total project costs by $30 billion.

High-speed rail’s promise is enormous. Construction would have an immediate impact on our economy by putting thousands of workers, who’ve lost jobs through no fault of their own, back to work. In the long-term, the impact of high-speed rail on the economy and environment is transformative. The new plan takes a proactive approach to addressing criticism about cost and viability.
The plan signals Gov. Brown’s strong commitment to invest in our future to rebuild California’s economy.

We couldn’t agree more with the Governor’s commitment to investment. The California Labor Federation and State Building and Construction Trades released a bold jobs plan titled “Invest in California” earlier this month that included the construction of high-speed rail as a key element.

California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski:

For far too long, the politics of decline have scarred California growth. We can no longer afford to compete with China and other large economies from behind. It’s time to invest in California’s future. High-speed rail will transform our state’s economy and lead to sustained job growth. The construction of the project will put hundreds of thousands of Californians, who have lost jobs through no fault of their own, back to work. The project promises to be a boon for small business, creating a renaissance for California entrepreneurs.

Still, opposition will be strong from those who have no vision for California’s future. The legislature must stand firm in rejecting the voices of decline by releasing voter-approved bonds so that construction on the project can begin soon.


As with any bold project, the voices of doom and decline say it can’t be done. They said it in the 20th century when California constructed a world-class infrastructure of freeways, dams, bridges and aqueducts that connected our communities and fostered a golden age of middle-class growth. We must reject the voices of decline now, as we did then, to reinvent California.


Posted on 04/02/2012Permalink

More posts by Steve Smith

Reader Discussion

That’s great news lets put Californians back to work on this great project.

at 8:40 pm on Mon, Apr 2, 2012Posted by Kevin Norton

This is great news.  California desperately needs to move toward a bright and prosperous future.  My only hope is that this plan is strong enough to counter the nay sayers and Union Pacific.

at 1:18 pm on Fri, Apr 6, 2012Posted by Bill Talkington Jr

You boiled it down to the simple terms and the Governor is right, this is a step but one in the right direction. Can’t wait to take my first bullet train ride on this side of the Pacific. It will be long overdue considering Japan has had theirs for decades.

at 2:33 pm on Fri, Apr 6, 2012Posted by Charlie Costello

It’s definitely time that California should have a high-speed rail system that will eventually benefit this state for years and possibly, decades to come!

at 10:22 pm on Sat, Apr 7, 2012Posted by Nick Melgarejo

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