Recent polling data from J. Moore Methods (hat tip to Californians for High Speed Trains) shows a significant amount of public support for Proposition 1.
Q: "Would you support or oppose a statewide $10 billion dollar bond measure to build a high-speed train system linking the major population centers in Southern California with the Central Valley and the Bay Area?"
July 2008: 58% support, 33% oppose, 9% no opinion
May 2008: 53-36-11
Feb. 2008: 54-39-7
Nov. 2007: 52-42-6
That's big movement in just the last two months. And that's after the non-issue of the Union Pacific right-of-way letter emerged. And despite the state budget deficit, support has merely grown over the last eight months.
What's responsible? Gas prices, obviously. As the price of oil rises, and as it dawns on Californians that this is a permanent, long-term shift, they understand instinctively the value of high speed rail. Don't believe me? Let's see the numbers:
Voters’ top reasons to support the High Speed Train bond are as follows:
-Providing a safe, affordable transportation alternative (77%),
-Reducing dependence on foreign oil (74%),
-Reducing traffic congestion (69%).
It's a shame that even though Californians understand the value of high speed rail, Senate Republicans are still trying to kill the project after six years of delay. AB 3034 isn't necessary to the passage of Proposition 1, which is a sound proposal - but the details of AB 3034 would only make a good plan that much better. Republicans had years to propose changes and improvements, but they suspiciously waited until the 11th hour to raise the objections and try and derail AB 3034. The usual right-wing suspects are ecstatic at this but as the poll numbers above suggest, they are once again swimming against the tide of California public opinion.
Senate Republicans and wingnut editorialists aren't offering Californians ANY solution to high gas prices. None at all. High speed rail IS a solution. It's not the only one, not by a longshot. But it would be very helpful to our state. We've delayed long enough. We're going to the voters this November one way or the other, with Prop 1 as-is or with an AB 3034-enhanced plan. Either way, we are going to win.