Harry Reid Backs Wrong High Speed Train to Vegas

Having just driven from Southern California to Las Vegas (and back), you would think that the idea of a high speed train would excite those of us who do the 4.5 hour drive on a regular basis.  And the idea of a high speed train does interest me. 

Just not the one that Sen. Harry Reid is backing.  As reported here a few months ago, a battle is brewing over two companies that want to bring high-speed rail to Southern Nevada.  The DesertXpress is the maglev train that would go from Anaheim to Las Vegas.  You could leave Las Vegas and be at Disneyland without having to endure the notorious (and not getting any better) Southern California traffic jams.  If you wanted to go to Los Angeles, you'd take one of the light-rail trains to Union Station.  They have plans for a terminus in Palmdale to accomodate those in the high desert that want to go to Las Vegas.

The other high-speed train, the one that Sen. Reid is backing, would go from Victorville to Las Vegas.  Yes, you read that right.  Victorville.  People in Southern California would have to drive to Victorville to take advantage of the train.  And people visiting from Las Vegas, would have to rent a car in Victorville and drive into Los Angeles.

The worst part of the trip is usually getting through Southern California traffic just to get to Victorville.  After that, the trip is usually less aggravating.  The idea that the freeways in Southern California are only a problem during rush hour is an urban legend.  About the only time the freeways aren't jammed are in the wee hours of the morning.

It is about 2.5 hours from Victorville to downtown Los Angeles.  And it usually bumper to bumper for a good portion of that drive.  And most people going to Los Angeles aren't staying downtown, so just getting to Downtown Los Angeles, still means you have more driving (and more sitting in traffic) to do.

So, we are scratching our heads over Sen. Reid's backing of a high-speed train that does not connect Southern California to Las Vegas but instead only goes part of the way.

It reminds us of the hype around the Las Vegas Monorail and we all know what a boon-doggle that became.

Let us know what you think!  Would you take a train to Victorville?

From our friends at the Las Vegas Sun:

A high-speed train should be in place in 2012 that links Las Vegas and Southern California.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today announced that plans are moving ahead for the DesertXpress train to Victorville, which is a private project. Reid had thrown his support behind the project, saying it had a better chance of getting built than an alternative maglev option that would have linked Las Vegas and Anaheim.

Officials hope to break ground in the first quarter of next year, with the project expected to be completed two years later.

As a private project, DesertXpress has insisted it has no interest in competing for $8 billion in federal recovery money — although more recently its backers said they may seek federal loans to help finance the $5 billion project.

Reid said today that plans are in place to link the project with California’s north-south trunk line "soon after" the Victorville project is complete, although no specific timeline is in place. The $45 billion trunk-line project links San Francisco and Southern California.

DesertXpress envisions a spur linking its Victorville stop to the California train’s Palmdale station, about 50 miles west. The Sun reported today that the U.S. Transportation secretary would announce the designation of a federal high-speed-rail corridor between Las Vegas and Southern California.

The one-way fare between Las Vegas and Southern California would be about $50.

DesertXpress is a private enterprise currently unaffiliated with a state agency.