Today NPR’s Marketplace examined the effect of high speed rail on Palmdale and the likely boost to the local economy that it will bring – particularly by shortening commutes.
A commuter train takes about two hours to get to Los Angeles. The bullet train could cut that time to 20 minutes.
Sammy Hults lives in Palmdale and travels for work. “It would allow me to look for work in more different major cities,” he says. “And having this rail, it’d be really easy to get there because travel time is really short.”Shorter travel times could also have a big impact on real estate. Palmdale has traditionally been an outpost for people who can’t afford to buy property in Los Angeles.
“It’s really affordable still, and that’s one of the reasons that a lot of people move into the area,” says Marco Henriquez, who owns Amigo Real Estate. “You can have a house and pay a lot less. Most of the times, half what you pay in the L.A. area.”
No doubt that real estate agents are salivating over the prospect of it being faster to get to downtown LA from Palmdale than from Santa Monica. The median sales price for a home in Palmdale is $230,000 according to Trulia which is shockingly cheap. The average for Los Angeles County is $475,000 and far higher than that along the coasts. Of course, HSR will also bring jobs to the Antelope Valley, as reverse commutes become possible.
HSR will also give a boost to existing businesses. When you cut the distance and time of a commute, residents have more money and more opportunity to support local businesses:
Other business could also benefit from shortened commute times.
Roxana Martinez owns Lucky Roxy’s Café. She often doesn’t see her regulars during the work-week because so much of their free time is eaten by the commute.
“By the time they get home, it’s practically like 7:30, 8 o’clock,” she says. “The kids are going to sleep, so they’re not really going to go out and dine. So I think that, just having that station here, and reducing the commute, I see it as a benefit to us. I see more customers coming in.”
Roxy’s customers rave about the café’s country gravy. And while it’s too much to call high-speed rail her ‘gravy train,’ it will help her sell more gravy.
To those benefits we can also add savings on gas. Palmdale residents are paying around $4 a gallon for gas, which adds up fast on a daily commute to and from the LA basin. Saving money on gas means more money to spend on local gravy.
As this article shows, HSR better for businesses and for quality of life. And the more people who use HSR to commute to Los Angeles, the less people will be driving on the 14 freeway, helping improve the Antelope Valley’s air quality as well.
Glad to see NPR highlighting these benefits.