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Sele O04 ‘Den 4 “Post State report blasts rail plan BY IAN S. PORT Dally Post Statf Writer A report by California’s legislative analyst slams the High Speed Rail Au- thority’s business plan, saying it lacks ‘key information on how much the bul- Jet train will cost, who will pay for it and how many people will ride it. break even financially, and + How the authority’s ridership esti- mates — which many have described as overly optimistic — are calculated. ‘The report comes amid criticism of the rail authority by some Peninsula residents who say the authority has failed to address the effects of the bul- Jet trains on the cities they would pass through, such as Palo Alto and Menlo Park. Many who live near the tracks want the trains to run in tunnels instead of on the elevated tracks that the rail au- thority is planning, saying the elevated tracks will divide cities and neighbor. hoods. Palo Alto City Council member Pat Burt said the authority’s business plan appeared to be more like a rewrite of an earlier marketing plan. He said he agrees with the legislative analyst that the missing details should be supplicd before the Legislature approves $125 million for the authority next year. “It basically doesn’t meet'the stan- dards that everybody who has done business plans is familiar with,” Burt told the Post. “Critical parts of the busi- ness plan — which is a legal require- ‘ment already for the high-speed rail au- thority — were completely absent.” Burt said the plan also raised ques- tions about whether the planners of the proposed rail system were working as nonpartisan body and looking at the project impartially, or whether “it's es- sentially the outgrowth of a political Faun? The rail authority was required by state law to submita business plan that would forecast the cost of the system, its likely ridership, and how long it could take to build. But state Legisla- tive Analyst Mac Taylor, whose job it is to investigate proposed legislation, said many important specifies were missing from the plan submitted by the rail authority, including: * Where future financing for the project will come from; * What the final cost of building and operating the system will be; * At what point the system would [See RAIL. page 19] is no more informatioy But Mehdi Morshed, execiitive di- rector of the rail authority, said that all the details that his agency has on the system were included in the business plan. “There are many specifics that we don’t know yet, that haven't been de- .” Morshed told the Post “We gave them everything I there is more work there He said that following the legislative analyst’s advice to wait for more de- tails before authorizing more spending would likely just delay the project, In the report, the analyst fold the Leg- islature to get a specific timeline for con- struction, details on which routes will be built first, and exact funding plans from the rail authority before approving its budget request for next year. But some argue that the analyst's Feport was a politically motivated ef fort to please legislators skeptical of the project. Rail observer and blogger Robert Cruickshank said the analyst didn’t take the state’s budget woes into account when evaluating the rail au- thority’s report “I wonder how the (legislative ana- lyst) would perform if it were asked to deliver their usual in-depth analyses of the state budget but were denied fund- ing to produce that study.” he wrote in a blog that focuses on the rail project. Others said the analyst's report pointed to long-standing problems with the rail authority “The legislative analyst's office is doing its homework,” said rail observer and Menlo Park resident Martin Engel. “They were even perhaps indirectly chastising the Legislature for its failure to exercise oversight and accountabil- ity.”