High Speed Rail

Covered at Reason 24/7: Republicans Look to Block LA to Vegas Rail Loan


A study by the Reason Foundation (the nonprofit organization that publishes this site and Reason magazine) has been cited by Congressional Republicans trying to block a $5.5 billion federal loan to build high-speed rail from Southern California to Las Vegas.

The Las Vegas Journal-Review notes:

Two leading Republicans have urged the Obama administration to reject a $5.5 billion loan to build a high-speed rail between Las Vegas and Southern California, saying the deal is a bad gamble.

"The risks to the taxpayers from financing this project are untenable," Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin and Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a March 6 letter.

Ryan is chairman of the House Budget Committee, and Sessions is the ranking GOP member on the Senate Budget Committee. Their argument was based in part on a 70-page report, released in August by the libertarian Reason Foundation, critical of the project being advanced by XpressWest.

The congressmen also cite another report from Congressional Research Service that said high-speed rail projects rarely ever earn enough revenue to cover the construction and operational costs.

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  1. I bet if the Kochs had rail travel investments that Reason Foundation report would say something very different.

    1. And the Progressive Press would want to smash the rails with righteous fury.

      1. Would they lie down in front of the trains? That would be fun.

  2. If the trains are powered by turbo encabulators, how can we afford not to build them?

  3. Can’t Vegas just fund the entire thing? It’s going to be a massive funnel of SoCal money into the casinos.

    1. Do you really think the old people burning their SS checks at the casinos are going to take a train when the bus is cheaper? Please.

      1. They don’t have much time left, Epi. They have to get to the Horseshoe before the Reaper comes a’callin.

        1. I would have pegged you more as a Flamingo guy, Hugh.

          1. Buffalo Bill’s for me.

            1. That’s not even in Vegas!

            2. Slots-A-Fun!

              1. Who are you calling a slot?

          2. Shows what you know, asshole. My one and only home in Vegas is the smoke-clouded slot banks of the Stardust. I’ve gotten more action there than anywhere in LA.

            1. The…the Stardust was destroyed in 2007, Hugh. Are you a ghost?

              1. The Stardust can never be destroyed kiddo. Now be a sport and fetch me a whiskey sour will ya? Sammy’s headlining tonight and I want to snag a good table.

                1. Why did it suddenly get super cold in here?

      2. Yeah, the only people on the trains are going to be rich people looking to avoid the traffic while feeling good about saving the environment. Pretty much the same as it is everywhere else.

        1. “The Reason Foundation study concludes that XpressWest’s ridership numbers are overestimated by 70 percent, primarily because XpressWest has inflated the number of Los Angeles residents who would drive to Victorville, an 80 to 100 mile trip for most, and then opt to take the train instead of simply driving the rest of the way to Las Vegas.”

          “Yeah, the only people on the trains are going to be rich people looking to avoid the traffic”

          They would have to be rich and stupid

          1. Wait, so you have to drive ~1/3 of the way there, and probably the third with the worst traffic? HAHAHAHHAHA

            1. Yeah, that’s bullshit, it needs to leave from Union Station if they want to capture any kind of ridership. LA FAIL

          2. I didn’t realize line ended in Victorville. I can’t imagine anyone using this train now.

            1. You’d take it if you needed to ambush the guys who kidnapped your partner’s daughter.

              1. Okay. Just that one time, though.

            2. Victorville sounds like some made-up town from Fallout

      3. Probably not, but young (21-55) people would be all about it. The LA to LV busride sucks, and if the bus breaks down in the desert it’s doubly bad.

        1. Not necessarily. People are fat these days. One or two riders could sustain the rest of them for several days until help arrived.

          1. And with jesse on board, I’m sure they would be delicious!

            1. I could probably rig a solar sinter to heat the bus up and turn it into an oven. I’m not sure I’d be able to rig a decent spit for something as heavy as a morbidly obese human though. Also I can’t guarantee I’d have enough tarragon on hand.

        2. Why would they take a train when Vegas flights are cheaper than dirt? Come on, jesse, your love of trains is really on display here. Why don’t you go back to your Bachmann Chattanooga Set!

          1. I take a train when it’s reasonable to do so. I’ve gone cross country twice, LA to NOLA, and Rochester, NY to NY, NY I’d like to do the LA to Seattle trip. I covered a number of countries in the Balkans by train, and a large part of Italy. I find it relaxing and I get to see more of the countryside than if I’m driving or flying, also I can usually smuggle on a ton of alcohol, which I can’t do while driving or flying.

            1. You are clearly not the average person. You’re welcome to your train if you want it, but you have to pay for it yourself.

            2. Why the fuck would you ever go to Rochester?!?

            3. Epi: I have family in Canandaigua. I end up upstate occasionally.

              some guy: I know I’m not the average person. I enjoy riding the train and understand it to be a luxury. I’d like to see a more robust train system in the US, but it should be privately held. When I went to NOLA two of the three people going with me had never been on an intercity train and both of them enjoyed the trip immensely (one has already done the SF to Portland leg since then)

        3. As CampingInYourPark said above, why would anyone take a 2-hour bus/car ride to Victorville just to hop on a train?

        4. When I was a kid back in 1978, the family packed up the van and took a four-week trip out to California and back. On the way from LA east, Dad had a tire blow-out in the Mojave Desert.

          Las Vegas in the daytime was nowhere near as glamorous as the nighttime photos I had seen in the World Book Encyclopedia.

  4. I’m opposed to the feds spending money on this project. That being said, a line from LA to LV does seem like it might actually get some use.

    1. So we won’t lose as many billions on this debacle as on the train planned from Nowhere to Noplace?

    2. If it was close to something that would pay for itself it would already have private funding.

    3. It will never beat the buses for value. Even subsidized it will only be used by the upper middle class and the wealthy who are looking to avoid the traffic and can afford to rent a car in Vegas.

      1. Hipsters, some guy.

        LA’s downtown has been recently repopulated by 20/30-somethings. These people drink, they think public transit is cool and they will take a train going from LA to Vegas.

        1. I’m sure they would.

          They just don’t want to pay for it. So screw them.

      2. My wife just took Greyhound from Raleigh to DC for 9 friggin dollars and the trip took about the same time as it does on Amtrak.

        1. Everyone takes the bus from anywhere to anywhere rather than Amtrak. You pay 80% less for a trip that takes 20% longer and is equally comfortable. This is why Amtrak is hemorrhaging money.

  5. So, California can continue to blame republicans for all their woes. Because as everyone knows, that rail system would have completely turned the state around. Turned it straight around.

    1. Yeah, nothing turns a state around like exporting tourism.

  6. High speed rail is so beneficial, we have to coerce you to build it.

    1. Ideas so good they’re mandatory.

  7. TRAINZZZZ!!!!!

  8. Clearly the lack of high speed rail has completely stunted any economic development in LA or Las Vegas. Those places are still just stage coach stops right?

  9. The new pope should fix this mess.

  10. I can barely wait for someone to invent a matter transporter. I can’t think of anything else that will deflate politicians’ choo-choo fetish.

    1. High speed rail to and from the matter transporter. Shouldn’t that be obvious?

  11. They’ve gotta prop up bankrupt California somehow.

    1. California is going to own the casinos?

      1. I’m thinking the money to the unions that will build the rail in CA.

        But, sure. Why not let California nationalize (state-ize) the casinos? We’re all in this together!

  12. Having driven to Las Vegas 6 times in the last year, I’ve gotten pretty good at driving the route. I can make it from Long Beach to the Flamingo in just under 3.5 hours, on a $50 tank of gas. Of course, I’m averaging at least 90 mph, and wind out to 110/115 mph on some stretches. Also, I have no qualms passing cars on the shoulder. My wife will navigate/spot for me. We’d make a pretty good rally car team. Hmmmm….

    1. Damn. Do you have a radar detector or are there just no cops in the high desert?

      1. When I drove from Vegas to Tucson, there were zero cops in the desert. And I was doing 90-100 much of the way. They can’t nail you, because you can see them miles away since the roads are perfectly flat and straight. So I assume they just don’t bother.

        However, I got caught up in traffic in Phoenix, and Maricopa Sheriffs were EVERYWHERE, pulling people over and hassling them.

      2. No radar detector. Just a good spotter, and brass balls.

        Plus, I figure California’s/Nevada’s dirty little secret is that they don’t pay cops to patrol for speeders in the desert nether regions. There are so many emergencies/accidents along the route that the CHP is too busy chasing that shit around to write tickets. Here’s a hint: if you are on a stretch of highway and see a sign that says “Speed Limit Enforced By Aircraft”, it’s a lie.

  13. But look at how well Amtrak does financially. Oh, wait…

  14. Part of the problem with this is the complete stupidity that usually accompanies these proposals.

    First, the trains will manage a top speed of 150 MPH (which is no improvement on the 1960’s), but then they will only average 80 MPH because they design it with curves that require a train to slow to school zone speeds. There are maglev trains that are capable of 310 MPH+ top speeds and average close to that if designed correctly, but that technology is not retro enough for them.

    Second, they build the terminus in the middle of nowhere: Victoryville, when it’s painfully obvious to anyone with a pulse that it should end at Union Station.

    Third, the financing and ownership problem; the usual proposals call for government ownership top to bottom. Despite that fact that every other transportation system uses publicly-financed infrastructure (airports, roads, ATC) and privately-financed equipment (planes, buses, cars), this one dares to be different.

    It’s like they intend for this thing to fail miserably.

    1. ^This!

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