Friday, June 26, 2009 | 3 a.m.
If Las Vegas wishes to remain competitive with other U.S. cities in transporting people, it will have to do more than rely on cars, buses and airplanes. Our roads and skies already are clogged with traffic.
There is another form of public transportation that deserves the public’s support — high-speed rail.
Two proposals are on the table that would employ fast trains between Southern Nevada and Southern California. One proposal, the DesertXpress, would involve a steel-wheel train on steel tracks that would initially run from Las Vegas to Victorville, Calif.
But we think a competing plan that would use magnetic levitation technology is far superior. Its supporters say that maglev represents the technology of the future, with trains that float on air and with no moving parts or friction, thereby reducing maintenance costs. In contrast, those supporters argue convincingly that steel tracks represent technology of the 19th century.
The maglev train would run all the way to Anaheim, Calif. That’s where it would potentially link up with another proposed high-speed rail system that would carry people to Northern California, according to stories that ran June 16 in the Las Vegas Sun, a sister publication of In Business Las Vegas.
The maglev line, a nonprofit venture that would be overseen by the California-Nevada Super Speed Train Commission, also has the potential to be part of a futuristic high-speed rail network of trains moving at 300 mph that could connect major cities throughout the country.
Think of what that would mean in terms of increased commerce for Las Vegas.
DesertXpress proponents say they intend to build a spur to Palmdale, Calif., to connect with the north-south California line. But that proposal doesn’t have a timetable or financing plan.
By initially extending only to Victorville, which is nearly 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles, Southern Californians would still have to drive several hours in congested traffic just to reach the train. That would include a journey over the Cajon Pass on Interstate 15.
When it comes to selecting a proposal worthy of competing for federal economic stimulus money set aside for high-speed rail development, we are convinced that most commuters would choose the maglev plan.