BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE       BILL NO: ab 528
          SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN              AUTHOR:  lowenthal
                                                         VERSION: 6/4/13
          Analysis by:  Eric Thronson                    FISCAL:  yes
          Hearing date:  June 11, 2013



          SUBJECT:

          State rail planning

          DESCRIPTION:

          This bill makes several changes to the required contents of and  
          timelines for the state rail plan and the high-speed rail  
          business plan.

          ANALYSIS:

           California State Rail Plan
           
          Since 2008, federal law has required states to adopt  
          comprehensive rail plans in order to be eligible for new federal  
          rail capital grants.

          The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) must  
          submit biennially a 10-year state rail plan to the Legislature,  
          governor, California Public Utility Commission, and California  
          Transportation Commission (CTC).  Existing law requires Caltrans  
          to submit the plan to the CTC for its advice and consent six  
          months prior to submission to the other recipients.

          The rail plan consists of a passenger and a freight element and  
          existing law is very prescriptive as to the plan's contents.   
          Specifically, the passenger element of the plan must, among  
          other things, include:

                 Actual capital and operating expenditures and revenues  
               by source for the prior two years;
                 Proposed capital and operating expenditures for the next  
               ten years;
                 Identification and cost of capital facilities necessary  
               to enhance the state intercity rail program's  
               competitiveness;
                 A discussion of fare policies and practices, including  




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               proposals that would maximize ridership and revenues;
                 A performance evaluation of all intercity rail services  
               over the prior two years;
                 A map showing all existing and proposed intercity and  
               commuter rail routes and services;
                 An evaluation of reports by regional planning agencies  
               on commuter service alternatives; and
                 A report on overall marketing strategy and marketing  
               activity expenditures.

          Existing law requires CTC to include capital investments in the  
          intercity passenger rail plan and in regional and urban rail  
          transit programs in the State Transportation Improvement Program  
          (STIP), the state's five-year transportation capital outlay  
          program.  The CTC updates and adopts the STIP every two years. 
           High-Speed Rail Business Plan
           
          The Legislature created the High-Speed Rail Authority (HSRA) to  
          direct the development and implementation of a fully integrated  
          intercity high-speed rail service in the state.  In 2009, the  
          Legislature passed and the governor signed into law SB 783  
          (Ashburn), Chapter 618, requiring HSRA to submit to the  
          Legislature a business plan by January 1, 2012, and every two  
          years thereafter.

          Specifically, existing law requires the high-speed rail business  
          plan to include:

                 Identification of the type of service HSRA plans to  
               develop;
                 A description of primary benefits the service will  
               provide;
                 A forecast of anticipated ridership, as well as capital,  
               operating, and maintenance costs;
                 An estimate and description of total anticipated  
               federal, state, local, and other funds intended to fund the  
               construction and operation of the system;
                 The proposed construction timeline for all eligible  
               corridors statewide;
                 A discussion of all reasonably foreseeable risks,  
               including financial, ridership, right-of-way acquisition,  
               environmental clearances, construction, equipment, and  
               technology; and
                 The authority's strategies or processes to manage those  
               risks identified.





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           This bill  makes several changes to required contents of and  
          timelines for the state rail plan and the high-speed rail  
          business plan, as follows:

          1.Related to the state rail plan, this bill:

                 Designates Caltrans as the state rail transportation  
               authority pursuant to federal law;
                 Requires the plan to be updated, at a minimum, every  
               five years instead of every two years;
                 Requires the Secretary of the Transportation Agency to  
               approve the plan before submittal; and
                 Requires the passenger rail element to include:

                  o         A statement of compliance with federal law;
                  o         Plans for a comprehensive and integrated  
                    statewide passenger rail system, including a  
                    discussion of the performance of and recommendations  
                    for the intercity passenger rail program;
                  o         A review of all high-speed rail routes, the  
                    rail freight system, conventional intercity and  
                    commuter rail systems; and
                  o         A freight rail element discussing various  
                    financial and service issues.

          1.Related to the high-speed rail business plan, this bill:

                 Moves the deadline for the plan from January 1 to May 1  
               of every even year; and
                 More clearly describes the required elements of the  
               plan.




          COMMENTS:

           1.Purpose  .  According to the author, statutes describing the  
            Caltrans rail plan and HSRA's business plan are in need of  
            revision to reflect new federal requirements, as well as to  
            make the development of the plans more streamlined and  
            efficient.  Successful rail development depends on the  
            integration of various modes of transportation, and these  
            plans are critical to the state's integration efforts of these  
            modes.





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           2.Changes to state rail plan should improve it  .  The Legislature  
            added many of the requirements in existing law for the state  
            rail plan in the mid-1990's, so they are focused on specific  
            issues Caltrans faced then relating to the intercity rail  
            program that Caltrans has since addressed.  For example,  
            existing law requires Caltrans to include in its biennial rail  
            plan a discussion of the impacts of adding checked baggage and  
            dining service to the intercity rail service through the  
            Central Valley.  Caltrans has extensively studied the issue,  
            and it is no longer necessary to include it in the rail plan.   
            In addition, the federal government now includes requirements  
            for all state rail plans that are not included in existing  
            state law.  This bill removes many of the unnecessary state  
            rail plan requirements and better aligns state law with  
            federal requirements.

           3.Good reasons to move HSRA business plan due date  .  This bill  
            moves the due date for HSRA's business plan from January 1 to  
            May 1 every other year.  This move is a good solution to  
            multiple problems.  First, receiving the plan on or before May  
            1 better aligns with the Legislative calendar, creating better  
            opportunities for legislative oversight and discussion.   
            Second, preparing the plan takes months, and in order to meet  
            the January 1 deadline HSRA staff and consultants had to  
            accomplish much of the plan development concurrently with  
            development of HSRA's annual budget plan.  This creates higher  
            costs and difficulty, and shifting the timeline even a few  
            months can lead to more efficiency and a better work product.

          Assembly Votes:
               Floor:    53-20
               Appr: 13-4
               Trans:    14-2

          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on  
          Wednesday,                                             June 5,  
          2013.)

               SUPPORT:  None received.

               OPPOSED:  None received.









          AB 528 (LOWENTHAL)                                     Page 5