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HSRA defends ridership model; predicts 41m annual riders by 2030

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    Published Friday, March 4, 2010, by the Peninsula Daily News Rail authority defends ridership numbers Agency predicts 41 million people would ride LA-to-SF
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 5, 2010
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      Published Friday, March 4, 2010, by the Peninsula Daily News

      Rail authority defends ridership numbers
      Agency predicts 41 million people would ride LA-to-SF route by 2030

      By Will Oremus
      Daily News Staff Writer

      Facing criticism of its ambitious-sounding ridership estimates, the California High-Speed Rail Authority on Thursday published an eight-page response to claims of skewed numbers and a flawed peer review process.

      In the document, authority Executive Director Mehdi Morshed defended the ridership model, saying it provides "sound information." He attached a three-page memo from the principal of consulting firm Cambridge Systematics, who said his company stands by its work.

      Legislators, activists and self-styled watchdogs have questioned the authority's forecast that 41 million people would ride the planned Los Angeles-to-San Francisco line by 2030.

      Skepticism intensified when The Daily News reported in February that the Palo Alto-based watchdog group Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design found discrepancies between the ridership model published for peer review and the one actually used to generate the forecasts. The authority disclosed the actual numbers after the group questioned aspects of the published model.

      Among other things, the actual model appeared to place 60 times more emphasis on the effect of infrequent train service on overall ridership. Critics said that could explain why later forecasts showed the line would have more riders if it ran through San Jose instead of through the East Bay, an alignment favored by some.

      In the memo, Cambridge Systematics principal George Mazur repeated the authority's explanation that the seeming discrepancy was due only to a typographical error. He said there were changes made to the model after peer review, but they did not affect the decision to run the train through San Jose and up the Peninsula instead of through the East Bay.

      The eight-page response is available on the California High-Speed Rail Authority's Web site, <http://cahighspeedrail.ca.gov>. Morshed wrote that he published the memo "in anticipation of further public comment on the ridership and revenue forecasts."

      Elizabeth Alexis of Californians Advocating for Responsible Rail Design <http://calhsr.com> could not be reached for immediate comment.

      E-mail Will Oremus at woremus@...


      [BATN: See also:

      Atherton joins effort to reopen HSR suit over ridership model
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44195

      After ridership discovery, attorney may reopen HSR EIR lawsuit
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44178

      Letters: Dysfunctional, unprofessional HSRA faked ridership
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44160

      HSR official claims alleged ridership model flaw was just a typo
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44149

      HSRA critics to sue over "clearly ridiculous" MTC ridership model
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44137

      HSR ridership challenged; group cites flawed, undisclosed model
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44132

      Groups aim to reopen HSR EIR lawsuit over MTC's ridership meddling
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44130

      Peninsula watchdog group blasts HSR ridership prediction methods
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44115

      HSR ridership estimates, assumptions questioned; may be "invalid"
      http://groups.yahoo.com/group/BATN/message/44111 ]
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