In quoting State Sen. Joe Simitian’s claim that the initial operating segment (IOS) won’t be high-speed, George F. Will gets it mostly wrong. The Central Valley IOS will allow for interim Amtrak service at 125 mph — much less than the 220 mph the train will reach once the project is fully complete, but far faster than is currently possible.
And in regards to the assumptions of “$40 per gallon of gasoline”: the most recent business plan assumes $6.11 price per gallon of gasoline in 2030; given recent trends, this is surely a realistic projection. Taken in concert with estimates that California is projected to add the equivalent of the current population of the state of New York over the next 30 to40 years, and you get a surefire recipe for a boom in travel. A mid-level projection of just over 21 million passengers in these conditions isn’t unreasonable.