Fourteen years after California voters approved funding to begin building a statewide high-speed rail system, a majority of registered voters still support the project, according to a new survey by UC Berkeley's Institute of Government 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.
Democrats support the project by a margin of 73% to 18%, 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.
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.
Governor Gavin Newsom has submitted a $4.2 billion budget request to fund construction work now underway in the Central Valley and to advance 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.
“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," said Alan Minsky, executive director of Progressive Democrats of America. "I urge the Legislature to approve Governor Newsom’s $4.2 billion budget request to continue progress on the project.”