Council’s Work Lays Track for Bullet Train Switch

The Bay Area would get bigger and smaller at the same time under a major change announced this week by the California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) that underscores the importance of the Bay Area Council’s work in 2012 to secure funding for the electrification and modernization of Caltrain. The CHSRA on Thursday announced that the Bay Area, rather than Los Angeles, will be the first stop for high speed rail linking to the initial operating segment currently under construction in the Central Valley.

With high speed rail facing strong political headwinds in 2011, the Council proposed making early investments in the Bay Area to prepare for bullet trains while recognizing the need to modernize Caltrain to improve its capacity. Mobilizing regional leaders here and mounting a strong advocacy effort, the Council succeeded in helping assemble a funding package to upgrade Caltrain and ready the corridor to accommodate high speed trains.

The switch also highlights the fast-growing economic and employment connections between the Bay Area and the Central Valley, which will be discussed in an upcoming Bay Area Council Economic Institute report on the emerging Bay Area megaregion.   High speed train service would expand the Bay Area’s labor market at the same time it shrinks the time it takes for workers to commute between the Central Valley and jobs in Silicon Valley, with a huge improvement between Gilroy and San Jose. To engage in our transportation policy work, please contact Senior Vice President Michael Cunningham.

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