At this week's California High Speed Rail Authority board meeting in Fresno, UC Merced economics professor Shawn Kantor presented a study showing that high speed rail would provide $3 billion in economic benefits to the Central Valley. Kantor's study also suggested that the economic stimulus of high speed rail, in the form of new jobs and new economic activity, would pump around $2 billion into the state budget in the form of increased income tax revenue. UPDATE: The complete study is located here.
This comes on the heels of other reports showing the regional economic impact of Prop 1A. The Bay Area Council Economic Institute published a study suggesting that HSR will create 48,000 permanent jobs in the SF Bay Area alone, and will create between 100,000 and 128,000 jobs "during the period of construction."
Both Kantor and the BACEI studies emphasize the productivity gains that will come from high speed trains:
Kantor said his tally includes savings that high-speed rail would provide the region's residents in time and money that otherwise would be spent on driving to the Bay Area or Southern California, including gas, maintenance and parking.
The estimated economic benefit also includes productivity gains, Kantor said. "You can sit on a train and work, make phone calls, and be productive."...
[From the BACEI study:] From a business standpoint, reducing the time lost by commuters in Bay Area traffic will increase business productivity. Bay Area commuters lose approximately 150,000 hours each day to congestion, at an annual economic cost of approximately $2.6 billion.
A similar study conducted by the San Diego Institute for Policy Research indicated 45,000 long-term jobs would be created by high speed rail in the San Diego region.
These studies provide a solid counterpoint to the completely discredited Cox-Vranich study arguing that high speed rail will cost California money. In fact it will save California money, add needed tax revenue to the state budget, and most importantly, create hundreds of thousands of jobs that this state so desperately needs.
Prop 1A is economic stimulus, as well as a transportation solution, a method to achieve energy independence, and a tool in the fight against global warming. California needs high speed rail to secure its 21st century future.