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