Monday, July 31, 2017

Cost-benefit Analysis for an Inland Empire Electric Commuter Train


A common basis for rail feasibility evaluation has been the cost per passenger using the train, i.e. a comparison of anticipated revenue relative to the cost for the development and operation of the train. This does not include any social, medical and environmental impacts from using a gasoline fueled car.
A previous study evaluated the feasibility for developing a commuter train for the Temecula Valley region. It was reported as RCTC 2007:

http://www.rctcdev.info/uploads/media_items/i-15-commuter-rail-feasibility-study.original.pdf

The RCTC 2007 study is partial analysis of the feasibility for the creation of a commuter train along route I-15. Although the report is 10 years old, many of the analyses are pertinent to our mission for creating such a commuter train. The RCTC 2007 partial evaluation is a stepping stone for a complete evaluation.
Since 2007, many of the assumptions made for the RCTC report would require adjustment. The population density within the whole I-15 corridor has increased or is under pressure due to the continuous demand for reasonable cost housing.  In turn, higher populations have resulted in further congestion of the Interstate 15 corridor. A second study of population expansion would be required for a realistic forecast to the year 2030.   In addition, the cost per mile and the ridership population is highly dependent on economic metrics, such as the cost of fuel, cost of time on the congested roads, and the necessity to use more environmentally safe commuter transportation.

This report is not based on a complete cost-benefit analysis. It is a straight comparison of the estimated development costs of a rail system - tracks, stations and trains relative to the projected number of passengers. The analysis was projected to 2030. The validity of the projection is open to question. Some of the evaluations were based on a 2004 model.  In order to evaluate the RCT 2007 report, a documentation of the model and a list of all input parameters should be made available.

As such, the report published in 2007 is a partial analysis.  A new study should consider the total costs and benefits for developing an electric commuter train connecting East Ontario to San Diego via the Temecula Valley.  

Note:  RCTC report did not include any of the benefits identified in the following report:
http://sierraconservation.blogspot.com/2017/03/riverside-to-san-diego-commuter-train.html

Michael H. Momeni

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