Calling Metrolink's accounting system a "morass," the Los Angeles Times reports that the commuter rail system's chief financial officer has stepped down. This news follows on the heels of heavy criticisms aimed at California's proposed bullet train.
What are Metrolink's financial problems?
A closer look at the railroad's finances reveals "inadequate cash reserves" for currently outstanding bills as well as underfunded accounts lacking about $66 million. Other problems include a commingling of funds and insufficient record keeping.
How many Californians rely on Metrolink trains for transportation?
A 2011 fact sheet notes that in June the commuter trains saw an average weekday ridership of 43,559 passengers. Metrolink's December 2012 fact sheet shows that the commuter rail system operates seven routes with 55 stations. Weekday ridership had increased to 43,810 individuals.
What is Metrolink's budget?
Metrolink has a 2012 to 2013 operating budget of $196.1 million.
How does Metrolink's accounting problem relate to problems faced by California's proposed bullet train?
Metrolink is accused of having a "lack of sound businesses practices." Similar accusations are aimed at California High Speed Rail (CHSR). The Orange County Register refers to "condemning analyses by numerous government agencies and private organizations" that call into question virtually all aspects of the planned bullet train. "We've never had a business plan. We've never had a funding source. We've never had an accurate ridership study," said Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point.
What is the cost of the bullet train?
Although initially estimated to cost $33 billion, the cost estimate has risen as high as $98 billion and has then been reduced to $68 billion.
Why has the cost fluctuated so significantly?
It its 2012 business plan, the CHSR notes that the cost increase is partially due to "significant scope additions due to advancement of the design, better understanding of the site conditions, and input from local stakeholders and the community."
How do lawsuits factor into the troubles of Metrolink and the bullet train?
The Press-Enterprise highlights the Friends of Riverside's Hills' lawsuit over a proposed Metrolink expansion into Perris. Citing noise, pollution and habitat destruction, the group filed suit in Riverside County. A decision is not expected for a few months. The County of Kings Board of Supervisors filed suit against the California bullet train over its proposed speed, California Watch reports. The train is required to maintain an average speed of 140 miles per hour, which has not been verified by any authorities. Another lawsuit, brought by the City of Chowchilla over the Merced-to-Fresno portion of the rail line, has been settled. The Business Journal explains that parts of the settlement include a payment of legal fees to Chowchilla and an alignment adjustment of the train's route. Still outstanding are rulings on suits brought by Madera and Merced Counties' farm bureaus.
Sylvia Cochran is a Los Angeles area resident with a firm finger on the pulse of California politics. Talk radio junkie, community volunteer and politically independent, she scrutinizes the good and the bad from both sides of the political aisle.
- Public Transportation