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Rail to Redlands project math still fuzzy, from financing to rider costs

Rail to Redlands project math still fuzzy, from financing to rider costs 

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The Redlands Daily Facts article “SanBAG planning $242M in funds for Redlands Passenger Rail project (June 7),” attempts to make sense of the cost of the Redlands Passenger Rail Project. The Inland Empire Transit Alliance has been working on this issue, and we are still unclear what the total cost of this project will be.
It appears to be a moving target and as SanBAG’s spokesman says, “Construction is still two years away, so it’s hard to anticipate definitively what those construction costs are ….”

It is like another issue of our times where politicians say, “We are going to pass the bill and then see what is in it.” We all know how that turned out.

So, let us try and decipher the project financing and costs using the information found in the Facts article.
First, SanBAG claims that the total project cost is $242 million of which $9 million has already been spent on the 700page Environmental Impact Study (that is close to $12,800 a page). Then there is the $77 million loan against Measure I that is included in the $242 million total cost above.

The article says that $110 million will come from Measure I and $15 million from a Proposition 1B bond. The project is also getting $46 million in state funds and $86 million in federal funds. Sorry to further confuse the reader, but what about the $77 million financing cost of the $77 million loan against Measure I that must be paid? And then there is the $12.5 interest cost of the $15 million bond against Proposition 1B (SanBAG says not to worry about this $12.5 million as it will be paid by the state — the state is us).

And let us not forget the first mile of this endeavor which cost $104 million. SanBAG says this connection has nothing to do with the RPRP, but without it, the RPRP is a train to nowhere.

Lastly, SanBAG says that the yearly operating cost of the RPRP will be $6 million, down $2 million from just a few weeks ago. How does SanBAG know this when the cost of a ticket to ride the RPRP from Redlands to the San Bernardino Transit Center and then on to the San Bernardino Station has not been determined? Will there be revenue from ticket sales to offset the operating costs? No one knows.

The Facts’ article says that $110 million of Measure I will go to building the railroad and SanBAG says that Measure I will pay for the interest cost on the $77 million loan against Measure I. This makes us question if there is enough MeasureI money to pay for all of these expenditures.

If you are flummoxed over the financing and cost of this project so are we.

Or does it really matter how much the RPRP costs? After all, it is only your tax dollars that are paying for Redlands Passenger Rail Project.

— Larry Leonard, Inland Empire Transit Alliance

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