Tuesday, September 22, 2015

High speed rail to Vegas, this month's edition

So I saw the headline via a Facebook share - high speed rail from Los Angeles to Las Vegas!

What prompted the excitement? This announcement that "XpressWest, a private venture proposal backed by Las Vegas-based hotel and casino developer Marnell Companies," had secured a partner in China Railway International USA.

Let's review.

Who's proposing this latest version of a high speed railway to Las Vegas? The casino interests of Las Vegas.

Why? Because the casinos are in Las Vegas, and the people are in Los Angeles. So the casinos need a way to get the people to the casinos.

Who's going to pay for this?

That's the sticking point. While the casinos are extremely willing to suggest the idea of a rail system to Vegas, they can't actually pay to put it in.

XpressWest had been unable to secure a federal loan or investment from within the United States for the project.

I vaguely remember one of these proposals from a decade or two ago, in which the argument was made that since most of the rail line would go through California, and only a little itty bit of the line would go through Nevada, therefore California should pay for the bulk of the project. Never mind that the intent of the project was to suck money out of California.

One other comment: this version of the high speed rail project not only bypasses the Ontario area, but also bypasses the entertainment complex in Orange County. That airport that's coming under local control, and that brand spanking new rail station in Anaheim? Forget it.

Frankly, I can't quibble with the routing of the line (which, for the record, is Las Vegas to Victorville to Palmdale to Los Angeles). If we in the IE really really wanted a high speed rail line to come here, we'd pay for it - and frankly, we weren't even willing to pay for our own airport, trying to get it for free.

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