High-Speed Rail Board Releases Favorable Poll

Tracy Wood

Commuters headed to L.A. watch the arrival of a 7:10 a.m. Metrolink train in Buena Park. The station may be torn down to make room for high-speed rail.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority on Tuesday released a summary (attached) of a poll that they say shows about 76 percent of Californians support high-speed rail.

However, rail authority officials did not release any questions from the poll, which was commissioned in part to help convince Congress to give California more money for the project.

Rail authority Chairman Curt Pringle, who also is mayor of Anaheim, heads to Washington with the poll tomorrow to convince lawmakers that California should receive more funds for the proposed $43 billion project. This year the state won $2.3 billion in federal stimulus money to help move the project along, but Congress too has had less money to spend.

The poll summary, which was conducted by Republican pollsters Public Opinion Strategies, indicated that a positive image of high-speed rail was presented to the survey respondents.

For example, it said 77 percent of the 800 Californians contacted by telephone in May said they traveled a “long distance between regions” within the state at least once a year.

“When informed that a single person’s high-speed rail trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles would cost less than an airplane ticket and much less than the cost of driving — and would be more environmentally friendly — more than seven out of ten said they would prefer to take the high-speed rail line.”

There didn’t seem to be any information provided to those being polled about problems with the rail proposal, including a highly critical audit.

The poll refers to jobs being created but it’s not clear if voters were told most of those jobs wouldn’t appear for several years and that many would be temporary.

At another point, the summary simply stated “voters do not see uncertainties around the project as offering compelling reasons to delay it; and as they get more information about the project, their support tends to intensify.”

Rail officials said they couldn’t immediately say how much the poll cost because it was part of the $9 million, five-year contract the rail authority has with Ogilvy Public Relations.

We’ll keep pushing for this information and pass it on to you as soon as we get it.

— TRACY WOOD

 

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