Not All CA HSR Advocates Are Happy With Stimulus Decisions

Jan 30th, 2010 | Posted by

While we who support the high speed rail project being planned by the California High Speed Rail Authority have been celebrating the stimulus announcement since we first learned of it on Wednesday, not all advocates for high speed rail projects that involve California are pleased. Left out of the stimulus awards was the Southern California to Las Vegas corridor, including the maglev project to link Anaheim to Vegas. That hasn’t gone over too well among project backers, and recriminations are flying among Nevada politicians.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal puts it:

Nevada lost out on another multimillion-dollar economic stimulus program when the government doled out $8 billion for high-speed rail projects Thursday because a route planned for a magnetic levitation train between Las Vegas and Southern California was declared ineligible for the funds.

The denial of $83 million in coveted federal funds that might have been used to create jobs and advance a futuristic mode of travel for casino-bound tourists immediately set off a round of political finger-pointing.

At issue was whether the state of Nevada did enough to support the application. The US Department of Transportation is arguing that the maglev project was ineligible because it was not sponsored by a state agency:

Robert Kulat, a Department of Transportation spokesman, said the Nevada-California partnership applied for funding, “but they were not qualified. The project was not eligible, and the sponsor was ineligible. There had to be a state agency sponsoring it.”

The application for $83 million was filed by the California-Nevada Super Speed Commission, but according to the federal department, “only states, groups of states, interstate compacts, and public agencies established by one or more states” were eligible.

While the Super Speed Train Commission ostensibly is a bi-state body, there is a wrinkle, a senior Transportation Department official said. Nevada established its part as a state agency, but in California, it was formed as a “nonprofit public benefit corporation.”

On Aug. 25, lawyers for the Federal Railroad Administration inquired about the makeup of the commission, said Neil Cummings, president of American Magline Group, the consortium putting together the Vegas-to-Anaheim project. Gibbons and Bruce Aguilera, the chairman of the California-Nevada commission, responded to the federal inquiry.

“We gave them everything and never heard back a word,” Cummings said, adding he was baffled the project did not qualify based on its where its work stands.

Nevada governor Jim Gibbons, a Republican, used the issue as an opportunity to take a shot at Democratic Senator Harry Reid, facing a tough reelection battle this fall:

“It looks like Senator Reid was asleep at the switch again, “ Governor Gibbons said, “Once again Reid pays no attention to the needs of Nevada families and President Obama simply ignores the fact that we have the second highest unemployment rate in the country.” Governor Gibbons has worked tirelessly to bring new industry and jobs to Nevada. “Nevada already has a high speed magnetic levitation train (MAGLEV) plan in place,” Governor Gibbons said, “It is disgusting and disgraceful that Reid and Obama ignored our efforts.”

Gibbons also noted that this high speed rail funding comes from stimulus funds, meant to create jobs and stimulate the economy. “Senator Reid’s weak efforts to help Nevada have already put us in 50th place in per capita stimulus fund rankings, this is just another slap in the face to working families and to families suffering through the misery of unemployment,” Governor Gibbons said, “I am surprised Reid calls Nevada his home state when he uses his position to insult every citizen of Nevada.” Gibbons added, “Every Nevadan, especially unemployed construction workers, should be livid with Senator Reid.”

Reid’s defense was that Gibbons and the state of Nevada failed to submit the proper application, leaving it up to the California-Nevada Super Speed Commission to submit it instead of the state of Nevada. Reid posted the following discussion with Ray LaHood on his website on Thursday to address the issue:

Of course, Reid has shifted his support away from maglev and toward the DesertXpress project, which has said it will not seek any federal funds as part of its construction. And Reid and LaHood argue in the video that the stimulus funds that went to us in California will benefit Nevada by helping build an HSR route through Palmdale, where an easy connection can be built to the DesertXpress trains.

Which is certainly true, but unlikely to be much comfort to Nevadans seeking high speed trains. One wonders if DesertXpress’s decision to not seek any federal funding was the right one. The state of Nevada should abandon its support of maglev and instead emphasize steel-wheel HSR. Surely DesertXpress could have found a use for $83 million in federal funding.

The longer-term future of Nevada HSR isn’t at all clear. While Governor Gibbons (himself a scandal-ridden lame duck) thinks the answer is to blame Harry Reid, I can’t imagine how Nevada would be any better off if they elected one of his Republican opponents, at least as far as HSR is concerned. Reid has been a rather poor majority leader in the Senate and ought to be replaced in that post forthwith. But if Nevadans think their chances of getting HSR funds are any better with a Republican Senator, or with Republican control of the Senate, they’ve got to be dreaming.

  1. lyqwyd
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 16:54
    #1

    I think it makes sense not to fund the mag-lev project. Every other project in the U.S. is steel, The global standard is steel, and mag-lev has not had much commercial success. Also, given that CA will be doing steel, and it makes far more sense to have the possibility of a single seat ride, steel seems the way to go for connecting Nevada & CA.

    If DesertXpress had a desire for federal funding, I’d have been in favor of that, but if they can do it without needing assistance, so much the better.

    Walter Reply:

    The compatibility factor is indeed crucial. I see DX as a useful precursor to having CHSR trains to Vegas. DX will build the track from Victorville to LV and probably chip in for the Victorville/Palmdale link. A one-platform transfer will become a timed transfer and sometime down the road, whoever operates CHSR will just buy DX and run express trains to Vegas that can go 220 mph.

    If this comes to pass, the Nevadans who complain that steel-wheel trains are too slow will have been making quite the shortsighted argument. And when people can get from SoCal to Vegas is half the time it takes to drive and a little quicker than flying for a cheaper price, it’s a safe bet that business travelers from Nevada and partiers from California alike will be filling those trains. And even if riding the rails from California to Vegas entails a transfer in Palmdale and a top speed of 150 mph on the second train, so be it. It’s a good deal for everyone. This is not the time or place to see whether a medium-distance commercial Maglev route will work or not.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Another option for DX, one that I hope they’re considering, is to ditch the Victorville station and the Barstow-Victorville segment completely in favor of connecting Barstow-Mojave. The savings realized from not having to build the Victorville station would help pay for part of the extra 30-ish miles of track, and instead of a line to Victorville, they’d have a line to all of California. A Barstow-Victorville-Cajon-Ontario connection could be built in the future if demand from the IE and San Diego is high enough and/or if the Mojave-LAUS section is overcrowded.

    Walter Reply:

    Victorville isn’t ideal, but Barstow (population 21K, tourism value ~0) is even worse. While “Victorville” is a term of mockery in the pro-Maglev crowd in Nevada, there is an easy fix. If DX is willing to spring for an extra 50 miles of flat, straight track from Victorville to Palmdale, they could shush the Maglev crowd and be much more clearly positioning themselves as a connection to California as a whole. I’m confident that a Cajon connection with stations in Victorville, San Bernardino and Riverside would emerge later to serve everyone south and east of the immediate LA area.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    I’m not saying put a station at Barstow. I’m saying put no station at Victorville, don’t spend the money to drag the line to victorville, and run the line straight to Mojave turning at Barstow. That means DX would only have to build a station in Las Vegas.

    The Mojave alignment is significantly faster than the Palmdale alignment for trips coming from the north and, coupled with 200+mph operations, would put SF, SJ and Sacramento in competitive range for shifting the majority of travelers from flights and cars. The mojave alignment is only a few minutes slower (5 IIRC) than the palmdale alignment for trains coming from the south.

    A future leg from Barstow to Ontario would provide slightly improved travel times for LA and Orange counties, and significantly and dramatically improved times for the Inland Empire and San Diego County.

    The line should eventually connect via both Mojave-Barstow and Barstow-Ontario/Riverside, but the Mojave-Barstow connection should be built first and dragging the line to victorville without dragging it over Cajon makes little financial sense.

    The Palmdale-Victorville connection, while politically advantageous for Victorville, is worse for everyone else in the long run.

    jimsf Reply:

    The folks in Barstow should get a station They are so cut off from the rest of the state, they pay taxes, and they could certainly use the link.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    There’s just not enough people there. How many trains per day are you going to stop in Barstow to take advantage of the demand from 20k residents?

    jimsf Reply:

    The number of trains between barstow and vegas would one per hour in each direction.
    The number stopping in barstow would be 4 per day in each direction.

    wu ming Reply:

    agreed. california’s mos eisley deserves a stop. it has a mcdonald’s shaped like an old train, for goodness’ sake, that’s gotta count for something!

    besides, it would allow transfers with the amtrak lines running through barstow.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    We need a stop in Baker, so that people can see the world’s largest thermometer!

    jimsf Reply:

    or they need to slow down long enough so people can get a picture….

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    This Map is what I’m proposing.

    jimsf Reply:

    perfect map – (but barstow gets a stop)

    jimsf Reply:

    remember, theres only 3000 people in Denair and they have 12 trains a day stopping there. (and they are only 15 miles from the station in modesto)

    Joey Reply:

    That station also serves Turlock, which is much bigger.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    And a whopping 4.3 people got on each of those trains. 12 TPD is apparently overkill for that station.

    jimsf Reply:

    True, ( I checked this weeks numbers, thats about right) but I also checked barstows numbers.

    currently we have two trains a day and two buses a day, and between 10-20 folks a day on/off there but consider that we can not take passenger point to point between barstow and vegas otherwise it would likely be higher. Barstow warrents at least two trains per day. ( this would make it possible for them to get jobs in vegas in for instance) and barstow will grow, just like the rest of cali, so I say they get one. you just can’t leave them stranded out there while train whoosh past and ignore them! If I lived there Id be pissed!

    Maybe the trains could stop by request only. You know I heard that in canada, in some places, folks just wave the train down and it stops and picks them up when theyre done fishing in the creek.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Should convert it to a flag stop like other low usage Amtrak stations.

    lyqwyd Reply:

    I like the idea, do you think going from Victorville to Palmdale would also be a good connection? It has the advantage of requiring less rail, avoiding the Tejon pass, and allowing all stations to have the possibility for single seat service to Vegas (assuming they have direct trains from both SF & LA). Although on the downside it would provide somewhat slower service for most.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Some people will surely drive to Victorville and catch the train from there, the problem is it seems dubious that it will be as large a share of the present driving transport share as they project. Mind for some share of those flying, it’d be more pleasant than an airport, and probably easier parking terms to.

    But if they build to Victorville as planned, then as a commercial proposition, a Barstow/Mojave connector would pay for itself just in access/user fee payments from the trains that use that connector. So whether they build it and it works, or they build it, they go bankrupt, and its bought out by the State of Nevada at a firesale price, there’s no reason for the Barstow/Mojave connector to not be built.

    IOW, whatever the full Victorville line as a financial proposition, given that physical infrastructure, the Barstow/Mojave connector would certainly be a viable financial proposition.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Sure but if I was an investor in the DX system, I’d be asking why we are even building Barstow-Victorville at all. Why worry about finding the money to connect Victorville-Palmdale or Victorville-Ontario when you can ditch the Barstow-Victorville section and build the line to Mojave and connect to CAHSR in phase one?

    The cost savings of not having to build a Victorville station, plus the potential cost savings of not having to build your own operations center and maintenance facility should more than cover the extra 30-ish miles of track that Barstow-Mojave represents.

    Eventually, when demand warrants it, you can build the Barstow-Ontario connection. But in the meantime, you’ve built a system that connects the entire state of CA to your line instead of just a park-and-ride in Victorville.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Because Stage One does not start until the end of the decade at the earliest.

    2020 Revenue discounts down quite sharply when looking to invest 2010 or 2011 dollars in capital works.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    That’s a good point.

    However, if they want to run through trains to LAUS, like they have said they do, then they’ll have to work with CHSRA to select compatible rolling stock and signaling systems, which means they’re going to have to wait a couple years anyway, or risk having to replace them at great expense.

    There’s a huge financial incentive for them to wait until CHSRA gets their system started.

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah … and it’s not like they’re going to get a huge amount of private investment anytime soon.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    220mph trains with a connection in Mojave would get you sub 3.5-hour trips from SF to Las Vegas, more than enough to grab over 50% of the market share (figuring similar speed averages on the desert section that CAHSR expects on the Merced-Bakersfield section).

    And that would be the longest trip in the system. You’d get Sacramento or San Jose to Vegas in under 3 hours and faster than that for everywhere else. Pretty much everyone from California who’s going to Vegas would take the train, at least if the line followed the same sort of mode shift that other lines do.

    When the demand is there, and more importantly when CAHSR finishes the LA-San Diego line, you could drag the line through victorville and over the Cajon pass to Ontario.

  2. BruceMcF
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 17:48
    #2

    The terms of the ARRA legislation seem clear, and if they wanted to be considered for funding the maglev, it had to be the State of Nevada or an interstate compact. A compact between a state and a non-profit in another state does not meet the terms set out.

    I could have formed a non-profit and applied for the Triple-C, but I wisely deferred to the Ohio Rail Development Commission, a state agency which under the ARRA was qualified to apply. I now think its in part down to my wisdom, and the foolishness of the Nevada folks, that Ohio got our $400m.

    Sure, its only enough in California to build a train box in the basement of a bus station, but here in Ohio it stretches far enough to for a whole rail corridor.

  3. Dave
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 18:13
    #3

    I think we should still thank Sen. Reid for his efforts to get money for High Speed Rail in general, which everyone critisized at first. That then became the $8B we saw, which benefited everyone else except Nevada, how ironic.

    I think that if DesertXpress asked for Stimulus funds, everyone would bitch that they are taking tax payer money, blah, blah, blah.

    I do think that if they were to ask for stimulus funds, that even though it might seem early to do so, they should think about funding the study & planning of the Victoryville to Palmdale portion now rather than later. Perhaps halfway through the the construction of the LV-VV.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Oh, it benefited Nevada, alright. CAHSR will be doing the hard part of getting the rail corridor through and then out of the LA Basin, and Nevada will end up doing the easier bit through the desert.

    Real clever that the benefit is hidden so well, except of course if Harry does not get re-elected.

  4. Ben
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 18:13
    #4

    This is beyond ridiculous. These are the same Republicans who were criticizing Sen. Reid for seeking federal money for the ‘Disneyland to the Casino’ trains earlier this year. The GOP is completely without ideas to offer voters.

  5. Donk
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 18:30
    #5

    Note on the new official FRA HSR map, which includes funded corridors and future corridors, the Desert Express route (thru Palmdale to LA) is now drawn on the map, not the route to Anaheim.

    http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/2243

    I am still waiting to hear what Bobby Jindal has to say about NV not getting any HSR pork.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is it just me, or does the FRA HSR map look a lot like The Transport Politic’s maps?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The FRA HSR map is a map of corridors that have received designation to qualify for appropriations under certain programs. Its a present state of play map on the planning, nomination, designation process.

    The TTP maps are more gravity models of ridership based on metro populations, with adjustments for Yonah Freemarks ideas of forming useful corridors, so, for example, he drags the Cleveland / Columbus corridor down to a crawl to pull it through Akron rather than taking the fast route through the counter to the west of Akron.

    Mind, that’s harsh – I imagine in his mind there is the money poured into that to allow it to run 160mph until it clears Akron, but if there is any state match involved, I’ll believe it when I see it.

  6. synonymouse
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 20:42
    #6

    Californians are patronizing Indian casinos and keeping the money instate. TS

  7. jimsf
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 21:33
    #7

    Most nevadans don’t want money spent on high speed rail. Its a primarily republican state anyway. They dont want spending, they have a huge anti immigrant sentiment, they want to be as opposite of california as they can. My bet freind lives in reno, all they do is bad mouth california and all our ideas.

    Look, nevada is a waste of space to being with. We should have annexed it and used it as a place to bury our garbage. the Vegas strip may be glittery and alluring for a minute but most of the state is trailer land… excuse me, “manufactured homes”

    Id lke to see DX built, if it connects to PMD I guess, but from an economic standpoint, I think california would be better off, keepings it home grown dollars at home, and its tourist industry as far from the strip’s money grubbing paws as possible. The more difficult to get there the better, from a california perspective. In these hard times maybe we should play hard ball.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Makes me just want to pull up stakes and move to Nevada. I thought the reason Nevada had grown so much was that a whole bunch of Californians had moved there. Once they get there they start hating California? Maybe it is something in the water.

    Maxi Reply:

    If we’re getting this much trouble from Nevada, what’s gonna happen when it’s time to extend HSR to Arizona? That’s state’s population is expected to double in about 30 years (well, if the economy ever recovers fast enough). Not even Arizona can build a highway big enough to accommodate all the incoming traffic from Phoenix/Tuscon to the coast.

    You know, I bet if airfare wasn’t so expensive, all those Cali-haters would take more trips to shopping in L.A. and dump their tourist dollars on our beaches. I’d be a strictly one-way thing though, ’cause who wants to go to Phoenix?

  8. jimsf
    Jan 30th, 2010 at 21:37
    #8

    and as for this statement
    “It looks like Senator Reid was asleep at the switch again, “ Governor Gibbons said, “Once again Reid pays no attention to the needs of Nevada families and President Obama simply ignores the fact that we have the second highest unemployment rate in the country.” Governor Gibbons has worked tirelessly to bring new industry and jobs to Nevada. “Nevada already has a high speed magnetic levitation train (MAGLEV) plan in place,” Governor Gibbons said, “It is disgusting and disgraceful that Reid and Obama ignored our efforts.”

    You have got to be kidding me. The republicans have done nothiing, NOTHING, but bitch about Obama and Reid and the spending and the pork for a full year, and now they want to complain they didnt get any pork? I hope nevada dries up and blows away.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    Duh! Pork is only bad if it’s spent on liberals!

  9. Rafael
    Jan 31st, 2010 at 00:23
    #9

    a) There’s no right of way for Las Vegas-Anaheim maglev west of Colton. California’s own steel wheels project plus SCAG’s projects for truck lanes on the freeways will consume what little ROW is left down there.

    b) In spite of his past insistence that only maglev was “Vegas” enough, Harry Reid has decided to back DesertXPress, an essentially private venture backed by Sig Rogich. He’s a controversial Nevada businessman with strong ties to both Sen Reid and the Nevada Republican party. Nevertheless, he’s barking up the right tree on this one because standard steel wheels lines can be connected to one another. It’s not essential for trains to make the trip between SoCal and Lost Wages in an hour. 2-2.5 hours will be good enough, and piggybacking off the California project via trackage rights will save a boatload of money. Plus, direct service from/to San Francisco, Sacramento and San Diego (albeit via a circuitous route).

    However, this concept is contingent on getting a connector planned and built in the High Desert (preferably in the SR58 corridor between Mojave and Barstow). In addition, the rolling stock plus electrification, signaling and other technical parameters have to be compatible. The devil is in the details. Ideally, trains should run non-stop between Palmdale/Bakersfield and Las Vegas at 200-220mph, right now DX plans call for just 150mph because that’s the top speed FRA-compatible rolling stock is already allowed to run at.

    Barstow will want a stop, but it should not get one IMHO unless it formulates a viable plan for growing its population to at least 100,000 (preferably more) in the next 20 years or so or, for massively expanded tourism. The primary gating item is access to water, cp. the failed California City project.

    c) The people complaining now are on the one hand, the business interests behind maglev and on the other, Las Vegas residents who don’t see Victorville as a viable destination for themselves. Many in the latter group are actually Democratic voters who supported Obama in the Nov 2008 elections. Note that DX, CHSRA, Sen. Reid and Secr. LaHood have all indicated that a High Desert connector should be considered – it’s just that no-one has actually stepped up to the plate to execute on the idea yet, so Nevadans haven’t seen a concrete proposal.

    Joey Reply:

    “DX plans call for just 150mph because that’s the top speed FRA-compatible rolling stock is already allowed to run at.”

    That’s strange, because as I remember it, DX intended to use non-compliant stock to begin with.

    Peter Reply:

    I think that was the top speed that the FRA has promulgated any regulations for. They have no rules for speeds higher than 150 mph.

    Rafael Reply:

    @ Joey – DX was initially looking a diesel-powered Talgo XXI rolling stock, which is a US version of the Talgo BX that is already popular in Europe. However, diesel traction limits it 125mph in commercial operation, much beyond that the displacement of the diesel engines and fuel consumption would go through the roof thanks to the whole “rolling bank vault” nonsense imposed by FRA.

    DX have since indicated they are considering electric traction to support higher speeds, presumably with either an electric version of the Talgo gear or else, something more like Amtrak’s Acela Express rolling stock. In other words, they don’t want the technology risk and potential delays associated with securing a “rule of special applicability” from FRA. However, CHSRA will have to petition for just such a beast and I’m suggesting DX should piggy-back off that effort as they are anyhow not looking to run on UPRR track anywhere along the LV-VV starter line.

  10. jimsf
    Jan 31st, 2010 at 10:37
    #10

    Well, now that the first cloud of dust has settled I say we forget Nevada, Arizona and everybody else and focus on spending cali money on the cali system, and getting construction started to meet the 202 deadline for service. One that happens other states will follow. If nevedans want to connect up to ours, they can, for a price, purchase ROW in our state and buy into our system, terms to be determined later.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    What DX should do is build electrified track from Las Vegas to Mojave and work a deal with whoever operates the CAHSR system to re-use their operations center, heavy maintenance facility, and other accouterments. The trains could be branded DX and run by the CHSRA operator while DX recoups their investment through trackage rent.

    I’m guessing we won’t hear much from DX until the CHSRA figures out an operation and maintenance deal. DX keeps saying they’re planning on breaking ground this year, but I bet their investors are pushing for a better integration plan than “drag it to victorville and then deal with everything else later”.

    Victorville would no doubt be livid about any plan that connects barstow to Mojave, especially if the victorville link is left out of phase 1, but if I was a DX investor I’d be screaming at the DX project managers to ditch the barstow victorville segment completely and just connect the system at Mojave. At the very least I’d be pushing to have it pushed to phase 2.

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually, if they laid upgraded track from mojave to las vegas, even the amtrak san joaquin trains could continue at 110mph from bfd to lvs. That would reduce the travel from a 5 hour bus ride to a 3 hour train ride.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, the Amtrak trains would still get stuck at the Tehachapi bottleneck.

  11. jimsf
    Jan 31st, 2010 at 11:27
    #11

    bakersfield – mojave – barstow would be best as it would provide service to that ignored section of the state and provide for more equitable travel time from norther california.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And note that these are junctions, not stations … bakersfield-mojave-barstow automatically implies palmdale-mojave-barstow.

    If they are pursuing it as a private venture, then that’s the connector with the best prospects in terms of generating access/user fees from the CAHSR operator … and if they end up going bankrupt, oh well. Some of the best rail corridors in the country were in the hands at one time or another of an enterprise that went bankrupt. In the heyday of the country’s railroadification in the later 1800’s, railroads going bankrupt with perfectly good rail corridors but dodgy financing were fairly common.

  12. Emma
    Jan 31st, 2010 at 11:38
    #12

    Oh please. Maglev would have never worked out.

  13. Truth be Told
    Jan 31st, 2010 at 18:02
    #13

    California’s Indian casino lobby will NEVER let any sort of transportation system connect Las Vegas to southern California.

    Peter Reply:

    You’ve gotta love the ability to throw out random claims of doom and gloom without any basis in fact.

    synonymouse Reply:

    More the other way around – I think it is Nevada interests who are funneling money to anti-casino groups in California. Rohnert Park #1

    The Indian tribes may indeed be fighting each other over location. For instance the Rohnert Park casino on hold would divert all the Bay Area business away from River Rock and Lake County casinos.

    Joey Reply:

    If we’re going to talk about this kind of stuff can we at least be PC?

    wu ming Reply:

    and that’s why there are no highways or air routes between so cal and lost wages. riiiiight.

    HSRforCali Reply:

    Truth be Told, that’s got to be one of the most unintelligent statements I’ve ever heard. If the casinos were worried about a connection between LV and SoCal, they would’ve tried to have stopped the DX project already. Your excuse only strikes me as pathetic and desperate. Besides, I doubt they’d ever be allowed to stop a project that’s meant to reduce congestion, pollution, and is completely privately funded.

    jimsf Reply:

    As much as it would be convenient for tourism, and I previously supported the idea, it really did just occur to me that we are just asking for vegas to suck up more of californias tourist dollars, our own domestic dollars, and the dollars that outsiders spend here, they might spend there instead if we make it too easy. So i have go with, no vegas train.We need every nickel of revenue we can get in california and our state should be so spectacular and so easy to navigate, that visitors completely forget that nevada is next door. In fact, the official tourism guys should mount a sinister campaign to spread rumors about nevada, you know, bad water, radiation, poisonous spiders, crime whatever, so we can keep our tourists here….. hmmmm I wonder if that would be legal…. Its certainly no worse than the stuff wall street pulled…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jim, I’m pretty sure it works the other way with outsiders. Foreign tourists visit Las Vegas in droves, because of its international name recognition; they don’t visit Indian casinos. An LV-LA HSR would make it easier for them to include Los Angeles on their trip, allowing them to spend more money in California.

    jimsf Reply:

    No, cali has a far more robust tourism industry than nevada. far far far more robust. Vegas is an afterthought for most of them. they go there if they have “extra time” I know. I talk to them everyday. Im always picking the brains of international tourists to get the real story from the horses mouth ( trains, healthcare, etc)

    36 million international and domestic vegas visitors annually compared to 351 million domestic and international california visitors annually.

    Of the ones I see, the comments are almost unanimous. 100 precent love yosemite, They all think SF is the best place. They all say the same thing about LA, its ok but they didnt really care for it, and they are slpit 50 50 on vegas, mostly there just go there to look because its a spectacle.

    The other place they want to go – and its hard to get them there, is Sequoia National Park. who knew?

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Nevada’s tourism industry is a much larger percentage of their economy than California’s, but California’s is still bigger by raw dollars ($100b vs around $30b, from what I can find, likely both are far less for 2009).

    Indian Casinos are around $5b in CA, though I can’t find how much of that is tourism dollars and how much is Californian’s going to the casinos. I’m guessing it’s mostly the latter.

    Nevada needs HSR to California much more than California needs HSR to Nevada, but the line will benefit everyone.

    Las Vegas – SF/Oak/Fremont and Las Vegas – Los Angeles/LGB/Santa Ana are two of the top-20 city pairs for flights (2.6m and 3.7m respectively), and that doesn’t count San Jose/Santa Clara – LV, San Diego -LV or Sacramento/Central Valley- LV. Plus the millions of car trips each year.

    There’s plenty of demand for a line connecting at mojave, and likely enough future demand to justify the cajon pass route as well. The fact that all you have to do is drag the line from Mojave to Vegas and build one station in vegas makes the whole thing a good idea.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well if we can figure out how to get lots of their dollars on the train before they reach the border that would be good. and I remain adamant about a stop at barstow. even if its one in each direction per day. and Id prefer that if the train goes to vegas, that it be part of the ca hsr system and not a separate system. In these difficult times, we can not afford to be giving anything to nevada that we can keep for ourselves. The train would also most likely, per the insistence of nevada, stop at primm as well.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    How much of California’s tourism is Mexicans driving over the border for upscale shopping that can’t be done in Tijuana?

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Congratulations, your comment manages to offend Californians and Mexicans.

    Seriously Alon, I love you buddy, but CA has a ginormous tourism industry that is world-famous. The rest of the country might bitch about us Californicators, but y’all come here on vacation in droves.

    Here in LA we have busses upon busses of tourists during the summer. The Europeans and Japanese love us for some ungodly reason.

    But if you don’t think a $100b industry is a big industry, or if you somehow think some of those dollars are worth less because they’re spent by mexicans, I can’t really help you.

    jimsf Reply:

    andy-Here in LA we have busses upon busses of tourists during the summer. The Europeans and Japanese love us for some ungodly reason

    (all true but remember, they love us up here just a teensy bit better ;-P

  14. synonymouse
    Feb 1st, 2010 at 09:46
    #14

    Everyone is building casinos. What do you think will happen to the Vegas international high roller market when Hawaii has casino resorts?

    Forget Sin City – ditto Palmdale – San Diego and Sacramento are much more important destinations.

    Joey Reply:

    Building casinos? In this economy?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Macau has. Even Sin City. Still building Indian casinos in Lake County, etc.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Macau built casinos at the height of the real estate bubble, in an economy with 10% real growth.

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