Spring 2019

California High Speed Rail

Photo of California High Speed Rail Presentation with Policy Research Internship students
Photo of California High Speed Rail Presentation with Policy Research Internship students

This spring 2019 semester, our POSC 395 Policy Research Internship students researched California’s High Speed Rail project. They presented their extensive research and policy suggestions to our partner, California Strategies. Steve Cahn, the Principal of California Strategies, shared this about the project, “Delving into the elements of the High Speed Rail project will help our state’s elected leaders and the general public be better informed about how it could transform the economy of California’s Central Valley and the state’s transportation system. Unruh Institute students have the knowledge to analyze complicated public policy and provide important research and recommendations to illuminate the toughest issues in this project.”

Rawan Masri shared this about what she gained from her internship experience, “I have completed two research papers on international and domestic policy issues as well as gained hands-on experience working besides lawyers and giving a policy presentation in front of a panel of experts. Additionally, I wrote memorandums and learned how to polish my resume which has been incredibly beneficial in job and scholarship interviews.”

Project: California High Speed Rail: Challenges & Possible Solutions

USC Students: Adam Garcia, Arman Nadim, Carissa Velasquez, Honor Hayball, Justin Collier and Rawan Masri

Research Question: A crucial problem however is the link between Merced/Fresno in the Central Valley and San Jose in the Bay Area. There are many expensive issues such as the engineering aspects of tunneling through the seismically active coastal range, etc. And yet, there is no currently available funding for this important link in the system. What is the best way to proceed? How can the costs be absorbed? Should these costs be absorbed singularly by government? Should there be a government/private relationship? What other innovative solutions may exist?

Policy Recommendations:

  1. Reapproaching HSR from a smaller scale, working with each city individually through local integrative transportation stations that promote business while looking for larger scale funding sources in the background.
  2. From case studies: Development deals along line (especially for housing), outreach campaigns on the benefits of rail, explore private-public partnerships, partner with Japan on noise reduction and tunnel building technology.
  3. Form a coalition to advise the project and co-opt support, along with overall rebranding, bridging the gap between popularity of Green New Deal and HSR.

Read the group’s research into California’s High Speed Rail here.

Watch the full video of their presentation here.