In justifying its jaw-dropping $100 billion estimate, the CA High-Speed Rail Authority argues that the cost of doing nothing is even more. $170 billion (to be exact) for equivalent transport capacity built with more highways and runways.
Ah, but what assumptions went into the $170 billion number calculation?
For this analysis, system capacity was used instead of a ridership forecast to make the comparison between a high-speed rail investment versus an equivalent investment in highways and airports.
In other words, the theoretical capacity of the rail line was the basis of the cost analysis, as opposed to the actual ridership! And that theoretical capacity is:
- 12 trains per hour in each direction
- 1000 seats per train19 hours of operation per day
- 70% average load factor for trains
No HSR network on the planet comes anywhere close to running this maximum level of service.