Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study - July 2018 advisory group meeting

July 30, 2018 Meeting Overview

About 25 members of the committee and guests attended the first meeting. The agenda included:

  • Definition of the role of the Advisory Group
  • Review of the February 2018 Feasibility Study
  • Overview of the Business Case Analysis work elements
  • Overview of the communications plan

Charles Knutson, policy advisor with the Washington State Governor's Office, shared the following:

  • The Cascadia megaregion is getting closer to making this project a reality
  • UHSGT could generate as much as a 20 to 1 return on investment

Jamie Hammond, Assistant Deputy Minister, BC Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology and Brendan Finn, Transportation Policy Advisor, Oregon State Governor's Office echoed Charles' comments and voiced their support for this study.

Role of the Advisory Group

  • The Advisory Group will provide input and comment, but not make decisions.
  • Advisory Group member perspectives will be helpful in navigating political and policy environment around UHSGT.
  • The group will meet up to six times over the next year.

Review of February 2018 UHSGT Feasibility Study

  • Earlier study looked at three technologies (maglev, high speed rail and hyperloop) and several possible corridors between Vancouver and Portland.
  • Study authors identified tradeoffs between cost and proximity to urban cores, as well as between number of station stops, travel times, and speed.

UHSGT Business Case Analysis

  • The Business Case Analysis will build on the feasibility study and include detailed study on the following elements:
    • Corridor Planning: Assessing the cost of construction for different routes between station stops, as well as land use and right of way. This effort also will consider connectivity with other modes of transportation.
    • Ridership Analysis: Estimating demand shift toward UHSGT from other modes, as well as new rider demand. This work also will analyze how changing economic and demographic assumptions affect projected ridership. The team will conduct a behavioral survey to understand future travel choices.
    • Governance: Generating options for a bi-national entity to plan/build/own/run the UHSGT system.
    • Economic Analysis: Developing a benefit cost analysis to measure direct economic costs and benefits as well as environmental and safety impacts and increased productivity and access to labor markets.
    • Funding and Finance: Identifying options to combine federal, state and local dollars for a project spanning two countries, two states and one province.

Communications Plan Overview

  • This plan will guide engagement and communications with the public.
  • Members of the advisory committee can use their networks to share information about the study and gather comments.

Advisory Group Discussion

  • Recognize the importance of time savings around border crossings – existing services were highlighted that have addressed border crossing issues, including Amtrak Cascades and seaplane services.
  • Encouraged to include an equity component in the economic analysis.
  • Consider whether cap and trade or other carbon credit programs could raise revenue for UHSGT at the state level.
  • Note that many transportation infrastructure projects are begun before the project is fully funded – the team agreed but noted that right of way needed to be secured at the start of the project.
  • Consider how to manage Buy America requirements on an international project.
  • Message management is important and talking points should be provided to Advisory Group members.

Next Steps

The project team will:

  • Provide email updates to an interested parties group on a regular basis and promote how to join that group through registration on the Ultra-High-Speed Ground Transportation study page.
  • Develop talking points for Advisory Group members.
  • Schedule in-person Advisory Group meeting in October 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia (ideally in conjunction with the 2018 Cascadia Innovations Corridor conference).