Substantial cost savings can be found by completing the G.L.A.M. plan with an aggressive construction schedule, using design standardization and working from a master plan. With continuous construction, the cost of building up and breaking down bureaucracies is eliminated. Materials can be purchased in huge bulk, a kit of parts could be available for each of the projects, and future station junctions can be designed and built keeping in mind future lines that will serve the station.
Based on past and current rail projects in Los Angeles and abroad we estimate the cost of designing and building the additional 390 miles of track in 13 years using economy of scale is between $31-38 billion dollars.
There are a plethora of ways to use our tax dollars to pay for this improvement to our transit system that will connect our region, free us of the expensive cost of personal automobiles and provide an alternative to stress and gridlock. But the most effective way is for the county to issue a $20 billion dollar bond, which is about the same amount of bonds we've invested in the LAUSD school construction project ($19.2 billion).
The bond allows us to build now and pay later. Repayment on the bond would be spread out over 30 years and with interest it would likely be about $1.3 billion per year. The first year of full bond repayment for this vital improvement to our region would consume only 5% of the county budget and it would descend from that peak annually. By year 13, bond repayment would likely be just 3% of the county budget.
The remaining capital cost of the project can be found by using the bond to leverage state and federal matches. Our substantial local down payment would be a major advantage when competing for funding in Sacramento and D.C. with other projects in other regions that lack a similar local commitment. Additionally, because the need and rewards of some of the line extensions are so obvious, several of the projects would instantly become the #1 passenger rail priority according to state and federal transportation analysis.
Most importantly, Los Angeles County deserves its fair share. In the case of the federal government, only 79 cents out of every dollar we send to D.C. comes back to California. With our rock star local leaders, and our powerful Congressional leaders who now run Capitol Hill we should expect and get a more equitable return from our federal government with its nearly $3 trillion dollar annual budget.
Auditors/inspector generals with impeccable credentials and credibility and a citizen advisory board would monitor each Joint Powers Authority to ensure that our tax dollars are being appropriately spent. Public transparency and competitive bidding would be a must.