Second, Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard explained omitting Anaheim based on the cost of travel time savings:
Electrifying and improving the Los Angeles to Orange County route would cost $6 billion and save only 10 minutes of travel time, said rail authority Chairman Dan Richard.Let's do the math here. The project is justified on travel time savings, and the Chairman has now said that $600 million per minute is too high a cost. At about $70 billion, the current project needs to save more than two hours (116 minutes) to justify the expense if each minute is worth $600 million. Yet Richard says $600 is too high, but by how much? The current (new) business plan offers about 2 hour and 40 minute service from San Francisco to Los Angeles on some routes. (How travel times didn't increase with the blended plan is still a bit of a mystery.) So, can you get from Union Station to San Francisco in less than or equal to 4:40 under current technologies? Yes you can. Flying is faster, even with airport hassles (Try Burbank to Oakland!). Driving is a bit longer, but is much more likely to get you exactly to your destination resulting in similar door to door times.
"Why would we do that, pay $600 million per minute?" he said in an interview Friday.
Using the Chairman's logic that $600 million is too expensive to save a minute, the whole project is too expensive. Time savings do not justify the current business plan. I am legitimately curious how much is the right amount to save a minute. This is a major issue for transport planning, since nearly all new projects are based on increasing travel speeds and saving time.
To illustrate the absurdity of travel time savings, I put together this table of needed time savings for various costs pr minute. I used $600 million as the upper bound, since we know that's too high. I also assume that the project cost is already fixed as are travel times, and use the recent total cost from the business plan.