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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Getting Back on Track: Policy Solutions to Improve California Rail Transit Projects

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This report combines a cost baseline analysis with five case studies of California rail projects (four local transit projects and California’s High-Speed Rail project) to identify the causes of high project costs, slow deployment, and overruns/delays beyond initial project estimates. Baselines were developed from an analysis of two prominent transit cost databases, and case studies were developed through review of the historical record and expert interviews. Key findings include lack of transit agency experience and expertise; insufficient cross-agency coordination; costly stakeholder outreach; inefficient procurement and contracting methods; and project overdesign. The report proposes a set of recommendations for transit agencies and state policymakers to overcome these challenges, including the creation of regional project delivery consultant teams, legal authorization and use of alternative contracting methods, and new agency coordination and communication structures.

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