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Commentaries: High-Speed Rail California's Savior, Downfall

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The holidays nurture thoughts of home, hearth, and, apparently, high-speed rail. Two very different stories on the latter subject appeared in the Las Vegas Sun and the OC Register. Vegas-based transportation consultant Tom Skancke writes that Sin City can be a transportation nexus by investing in freeways, public transit, and high-speed rail. He gives the DesertXpress high-speed proposal--that would connect Vegas to Victorville, Calif. (yes, Victorville)--60-40 odds of being up-and-running in 10 years. He sounds more dubious about the other proposal which would link Vegas to Anaheim via maglev. Jon Coupal, President of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which fought the 2008 ballot initiative that granted billions to high-speed rail in California, writes in the Register that the California train is a bad investment and will do more environmental harm than good. He cites a story that says tickets from Union Station in LA to SF would not be the expected $55 but more like $105 (in 2020 dollars), which would drive down ridership. Though the same article says 120,700 daily riders are still expected, the train will remain profitable, and high-speed rail will generate 600,000 statewide jobs, more than expected. Jarvis says, "The only good news is that it is still not too late to pull the plug on the entire HSR scheme," but then says that'll probably never happen.
· Las Vegas Can Be Transpo Hub [Las Vegas Sun]
· Bullet Train to Fantasyland [OC Register]