CA High Speed Rail recognized by US Departments of Treasury and Transportation for Transformative Impact

Two recent reports from the federal government highlighted California High Speed Rail’s (HSR) economic impact. The US Department of Transportation recognized the impact that federal dollars have had on CA High Speed Rail in its final report on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The report, Shovel Worthy: What the Recovery Act Taught Us About Investing in Our Nation’s Infrastructure, showed how the Central Valley region is seeing the early benefits of the progress being made on the nation’s first high-speed rail system through job creation and business participation both large and small.

The Recovery Act provided funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental clearance for the corridor. It also provided funding for the final design and construction of the 119-mile-long Central Valley construction package that US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx toured last year. This investment in the Central Valley has led to an economic turnaround in the region. The ARRA report focuses on the economic benefits that the City of Fresno has received from Recovery Act funds. Through strategic investments, including high-speed rail construction, Fresno’s unemployment rate went from 18 percent in 2011 to 9.3 percent in 2016.

The report also highlighted the work that HSRA is doing with Small and Disadvantaged Business participation in the construction of the project. Two small businesses were highlighted in the report, Outback Materials and Valverde Construction. Valverde Construction is a certified Hispanic Owned Small Business that is has a contract for utility relocation. Valverde expanded their business through the contract, opening an office in Fresno and hiring additional workers.

Outback Materials is a certified small business based in Fresno that provides concrete for construction in the region. Outback Materials invested $3 million to build a state-of-the art plant in Fresno and hired 25 new employees. Hear owner Curtis Lovett describe how Outback Materials has benefited and expanded as a result of work for high-speed rail:

The other report, commissioned by the US Department of the Treasury on behalf of the Build America Investment Initiative, identified 40 proposed transportation and water infrastructure projects of major economic significance that face challenges to their completion. The aim was to show the public the economic benefits of completing these projects.

According to the study, HSR ranked third in net economic benefit and cost ratio and would have projected net economic benefit of $130-260 billion. Project benefits included:

  • Travel time, reliability, travel cost and productivity benefits for users transferring from auto to HSR.
  • Travel time, reliability, safety and emission benefits for highway users traveling in less congested conditions due to mode shift from auto to HSR.
  • Passenger delay, operating cost and emission savings in the aviation sector due to mode shift from air to HSR.

With more than 119-miles of active construction in the Central Valley, construction of a high-speed rail line between the Silicon Valley and Central Valley is planned to be complete by 2024, with passenger service beginning in 2025. More on the project: http://hsr.ca.gov/

Caltrans Names New Strategic Management and Innovation Chief

blairCaltrans announced the appointment of Blair Thompson to be its first Chief of Innovation, Risk and Strategic Management. Thompson will oversee a newly created office, tasked with developing ways to streamline and improve department performance.  In addition, Thompson will manage and implement the 2015-2020 Strategic Management Plan, as well as additional innovation initiatives and risk management projects.

“Blair Thompson will be a valuable addition to the Caltrans executive team,” said Caltrans Director Malcolm Dougherty. “He will help Caltrans accomplish its strategic goals by using data and innovation to improve the Department’s performance.”

In the last of couple years, Caltrans has developed a comprehensive Strategic Management Plan and has become a leader in the Governor’s Lean-6 Sigma Program. Lean-6 Sigma is a methodology that streamlines processes by eliminating unnecessary steps.

Caltrans is committed to using comprehensive data to measure and improve its performance, as illustrated in its quarterly Mile Marker: A Caltrans Performance Report. Caltrans is expanding its comprehensive analysis on its performance, using cutting-edge technology.

Thompson comes to Caltrans from the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), where he worked since 1998. During his 18 years of state service, he worked in Project Management and helped create DMV’s Strategic Planning Program. As of 2008, he managed the teams responsible for strategic business and information technology planning, enterprise governance, performance management, strategic analysis, and organizational development, as well as DMV’s robust customer and employee survey programs. During his tenure, he also assisted in setting up DMV’s Risk Management Program, and since February 2016, he served as DMV’s Acting Enterprise Planning and Performance Branch Chief.

As Caltrans Director’s Office of Innovation, Risk and Strategic Management Chief, Thompson will also manage Caltrans efforts in the Federal Highway Administration’s State Transportation Innovation Council; ethics helpline and ethics policy development; risk management; Lean-6 Sigma process improvements and other special projects, such as Open Data and Intellectual Property.

CHP’s Mounted Patrol Unit takes to the Rose Parade

California Highway Patrol (CHP)’s Mounted Patrol unit joined 24 other equestrian teams at the 2017 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena earlier this week.

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This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Department’s Mounted Patrol Unit.  The CHP’s equestrian team is assigned to the Capitol Protection Section and consists of seven riders and six draft horses. Last week, the riders and their horses made the journey from Sacramento to Pasadena to be a part of the more than 100-year-old tradition, which included flower-covered floats, marching bands, and equestrian units from across the country. CHP’s equestrian unit was selected from hundreds of applicants.

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The Rose Parade was not the first parade excursion for the unit, they’ve appeared in the San Francisco St. Patrick’s Day Parade, Hollywood Christmas Parade, Los Angeles Kingdom Day Parade, Lake Tahoe 4th of July celebration, University of California Equestrian Days, and both the Coarsegold and Red Bluff Round-Up Rodeos.

The CHP’s mounted patrol officers are responsible for the State Capitol and Capitol Park, as well as hundreds of state properties in downtown Sacramento.  The Mounted Patrol Unit is used for general patrol and other situations, and is always ready to deploy at a moment’s notice.

CalSTA programs continue to improve service and access for public transit in Orange County

As part of CalSTA’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP), the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) recently implemented a mobile ticketing system through their OC Bus app to make purchasing tickets on the go more convenient for transit riders. The application and ticketing equipment was partially funded by TIRCP funds and mobile ticketing is available for regular fares and college passes. The OCTA anticipates including senior and disabled fares in Spring 2017. Riders can add fares instantly and store multiple passes within the app making boarding the buses faster and easier than before.

CalSTA’s Low Carbon Transit Operations Program (LCTOP) also helped fund a reduced day pass for OCTA riders for a six-month period. Riders can travel across Orange County with these day passes. The pass can also be purchased on the mobile ticketing app.

Both the LCTOP and TIRCP programs are funded through the Cap and Trade Program’s auction proceeds and its Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund. The LCTOP provides funding to transit agencies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve mobility, with a priority on serving disadvantaged communities. The TIRCP funds transformative capital improvements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase transit ridership, integrate rail services and improve safety.

For more information on these programs:
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/MassTrans/tircp.html
http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/MassTrans/lctop.html

UC Berkeley studio course envisions additional Transbay crossing

CalSTA staff recently joined two sessions of a city and regional planning studio course at UC Berkeley’s College of Environmental Design that analyzed the path for a new Transbay crossing for the San Francisco Bay Area. Due to increasing economic and population growth, many organizations have done preliminary analysis on the need and utility of a “second crossing” to add rail and transit capacity in the region in addition to the Bay Bridge and the current BART tunnel. This course asked graduate students studying transportation planning, engineering, and public health to study this issue from multiple angles in studio.

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Taught by Karen Trapenberg Frick, a former transportation planner at the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), the course examines topics related to project delivery, governance, funding and costs, policy and planning issues related to land use and transit-oriented development, environmental issues, and system connectivity.

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Throughout the semester, the course engaged with outside participants, including CalSTA Deputy Secretaries Kate White and Chad Edison, who provided expertise and feedback. Using these participants’ input and insight, and through regular consultation with dozens of stakeholders, students developed analyses and recommendations to deliver a final professional report on the alternatives that they presented this week.

The studio created a website to give the public access to their report for a larger discussion. The students utilized MTC’s travel demand model to estimate changes in travel patterns and UrbanSim to estimate the impact on land use to create their preliminary findings for each alternative.

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This work could potentially set the foundation for a plan that stakeholders will use to move forward on one of these alternatives to address the continuing growth of the Bay Area region. You can explore an interactive map of the alternatives here: http://thirdcrossing.org/map.html and find out more about the project.

Capitol Corridor Celebrates 25 Years of Service

On Tuesday, Secretary Kelly joined the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) to celebrate 25 years of service from Sacramento to San Jose. In 1990, voters recognized the need to fund passenger train service between the Bay Area and Sacramento and, through Prop 108 and Prop 111, supported bond measures to help fund the Capitol Corridor.

Service started in 1991 with just six trains making three round trips daily, at that point annual ridership was 238,000. For Valley locals and Bay Area denizens alike, the amenities of passenger rail did not go unnoticed. In 1991, a review in the Lodi News-Sentinel noted that the train had an observation platform, spacious cars with high-backed reclining seats, and a snack-bar car.

inagtrainPhoto Courtesy of CCJPA

In 1996, SB 457, the Intercity Passenger Rail Act authored by State Senator David Kelley created the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Board, comprised of six local transportation agencies along the route. The CCJPA was tasked with running the train service and increasing ridership. Today, the Board also includes two metropolitan planning organizations, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Sacramento Area Council of Governments.

Over the past 25 years, the Capitol Corridor trains have continued to increase service from three to fifteen weekday round trips and provide important direct connections with 10 local public transit systems and five passenger rail systems. Perhaps as a nod to California’s innovation centers, the Capitol Corridor was the first in the nation to test and develop Amtrak’s mobile ticketing systems and among the first to add in-train Wi-Fi.

2016 was a record-setting year for the CCJPA with ridership and revenue up significantly. The Capitol Corridor is the second highest ridership corridor on the Amtrak system, outside of the Northeast Corridor, carrying a record 1,560,000 riders last year.

Intercity rail continues to play a pivotal role in our transportation landscape. At CalSTA, we’ve recognized the great success of the Capitol Corridor route and have continued to work with the CCJPA to make service more efficient, reliable, and accessible. In 2015, CalSTA invested Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) funding in a $15 million effort to reduce travel times by 10 minutes between Sacramento and San Jose, benefiting not just the Capitol Corridor, but also ACE and San Joaquin rail services.

In August, CalSTA announced an additional award of TIRCP funding as part of a $70 million program to increase rail service to Roseville, and to develop a service optimization plan to increase ridership through improved reliability, better schedules and service integration, and more efficient service delivery. The funding will conduct track and facility improvements for 3 peak period Amtrak trains in each direction per day between Sacramento and Roseville. The additional service will not only benefit commuters to Sacramento, but those traveling to Davis, Solano County and all the way into the Bay Area.

We look forward to celebrating another 25 years of success with the CCJPA!

For more information on the Capitol Corridor, click here.