Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study - Business Case Analysis - April 30, 2019 advisory group meeting

Advisory Group Meeting 5 Overview – April 30, 2019

Sixteen members of the Advisory Group attended the fifth meeting in Vancouver, B.C. The agenda included:

  • Update on discussions of the equity group
  • Reports from the consultant team on work progress on the following topics
    • Corridor planning
    • Funding and financing
    • Lesson learned from Texas Central program
    • Governance

Equity small group update

  • Preliminary discussions by the equity group identified the need to define and address social equity in subsequent phases of the project
  • Further conversations with the small group will help clarify recommended next steps, but initial thoughts include bringing on an equity consultant as part of the project team moving forward and incorporating equity as part of future outreach and advisory group processes.

Corridor planning

  • Several potential alignments and station scenarios were considered that provided tradeoffs between ridership and revenue along the corridor. Options included various scenarios offering express service to just a few major stations that would form the spine, as well as local service that would stop at additional stations. Both express and local service would run on the same tracks.
  • Scenarios included three options for the spine of the system, including:
    • Portland – Seattle – Vancouver, BC (with an option of terminating in Surrey)
    • Portland – Tukwila – Bellevue/Redmond – Vancouver, BC (or Surrey)
    • Portland airport – Portland – Tukwila – Bellevue/Redmond – Vancouver, BC – Vancouver airport
  • Other stations analyzed for local service included: Tacoma, Everett, Olympia, Kelso/Longview, and Bellingham.
  • Elements considered for all of the scenarios included connectivity to other transportation modes and potential ridership and revenue.
  • Analysis also was shared related to travel times, number of trains per day, fares, population growth, and other factors that could affect ridership projections.

Funding and financing

  • Several potential or future funding and financing mechanisms were described
  • Existing funding and financing options will not be enough to cover project funding needs
  • New funding streams will need to be developed to deliver the project

Lessons learned from Texas Central

  • Project teams benefit from developing a clear discussion-level purpose and need statement early in the project that can guide decisions, frame conversations and set expectations for the public in terms of engagement
  • Engaging stakeholders is a key element to success, including business leaders, policymakers and the public

Governance Recommendations

  • Washington State Legislature recently passed a funding bill that provides additional support for work related to the development of a governance structure
  • Next steps could include developing working groups with the three government entities (Washington, Oregon and British Columbia) and the private sector

Next Steps

  • The project team will meet in June in Portland, Oregon. Agenda will focus on equity, draft of the report, funding and finance strategy
  • The final report will be submitted by June 30