New Poll Finds Strong Voter Support for High-Speed Rail in California

 
04/16/2022

By Andy Kunz,

Fourteen years after California voters approved funding to begin building a statewide high-speed rail system, a clear majority of registered voters—and more than 70% of Democrats—still support the project, according to a new survey by UC Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies and the Los Angeles Times.

The poll found that 56% of registered voters "support the state continuing to build the high-speed rail project, even if, as is currently planned, its operations only extend from Bakersfield to Merced in the Central Valley by the year 2030 and to the Bay Area by the year 2033." Thirty-five percent of voters said they are opposed.

By a margin of 73% to 18% Democrats support the project, with 54% of independent voters in support and 37% opposed. Registered Republicans oppose the project—66% to 25%.

"This poll confirms what we've believed for a long-time – that the great majority of Californians want electrified high-speed rail to help them alleviate congestion, avoid high gas prices, and address the climate crisis," said Ray LaHood, former U.S. Transportation Secretary and co-chair of the U.S. High-Speed Rail Coalition, which is mobilizing leading unions, businesses, and public servants to advocate for investments that will finally make high-speed rail a reality in America.

High-speed rail will help break the state's dependence on fossil fuels and is essential for California to achieve its ambitious clean air and carbon-free energy goals. At the same time, the project is creating thousands of good-paying union jobs.

Addressing voter worries over spiraling gas prices, the poll found that four in 10 voters said spiking gas prices are hurting them and their families, with low-income voters, especially, saying high gas prices are a serious problem.

The California project is at a critical juncture. Governor Newsom has submitted a $4.2 billion budget request to fund construction work now underway in the Central Valley and to advance key contracts to continue progress on the project. This bond appropriation is the remaining allocation from the original Proposition 1A bond approved by 6.6 million voters in 2008 to initiate construction on the California High-Speed Rail project. 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority is competing for billions of dollars in competitive grant opportunities in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well as billions more in the pending budget reconciliation bill, which includes $10 billion in dedicated funding for high-speed rail projects. 

Approval of the $4.2 billion bond appropriation will signal continued support by the State of California, creating the opportunity for significant federal investment. Together, these state and federal investments could help expedite the completion of an initial operating segment while advancing construction on the project's critical bookends in the Los Angeles Basin and the Bay Area.

Alan Minsky, Executive Director of Progressive Democrats of America, said: "As a resident of Los Angeles, I understand not only the imperative of building California's transformative high-speed rail project, but also that the vast majority of my fellow California Democrats believe it will address our state's growing climate, affordable housing, and mobility challenges. I urge the Legislature to approve Governor Newsom's $4.2 billion budget request to continue progress on the project."

About the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition

The U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition mobilizes leading unions, businesses, and public servants to advocate for investments that will finally make high-speed rail a reality in America.

Former USDOT Secretaries Ray LaHood, Norman Mineta, and Anthony Foxx as well as California High Speed Rail Authority Chair Emeritus Rod Diridon serve as Honorary Co-Chairs of the Coalition's Executive Committee.

SOURCE U.S. HIGH SPEED RAIL COALITION



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