Experts approve Calif. high-speed rail ridership data

Posted on September 7, 2011

A peer review panel concluded that the model and data used for ridership and revenue forecasts for high-speed rail in California provides a solid foundation for project planning.

"We are satisfied with the documentation presented in Cambridge Systematics and conclude that it demonstrates that the model produces results that are reasonable and within expected ranges for the current environmental planning and Business Plan applications of the model," peer reviewers wrote in their report, provided to the California High-Speed Rail Authority last week. "We were very pleased with the content, quality and quantity of the information."

The authority convened the peer review panel earlier this year to examine the ridership and revenue forecasting process used by Cambridge Systematics to produce the estimates used in planning and environmental work. This was in direct response to calls from observers for a more in-depth review of the approach Cambridge Systematics used to arrive at its ridership forecasts.

"The peer review report clearly indicates that the ridership model is a useful and dynamic tool," said the authority's CEO Roelof van Ark. "We will continue to refine the model and add the latest data to forecast demand for the state's high-speed rail system."

The ridership model has been used for planning the state's high-speed rail system. One of its first major uses was estimating the ridership for the full system so that planners could determine the largest possible impacts that would require mitigation. A practical range of updated ridership forecasts reflecting new data will be included in the authority's upcoming October business plan.

The report concluded that the model is appropriate for its intended uses, will provide a sound basis for future forecasting needs and will continue to be improved to support more detailed analyses.

The authority has been working with Cambridge Systematics to use and refine the model as part of its project level environmental review, business planning and system development. Further enhancements to the model will continue over the coming years as the high-speed rail project progresses.

To view the full report, click here.



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