But up until now, DesertXpress Enterprises' proposed route, nicknamed the "bridge to nowhere," has been laughable. That's because it ended in freaking Victorville -- a creepy desert trucker-stop of a city that's already like one-quarter of the way to Vegas, and not the most ideal place to leave a car for the weekend.
We can work with Palmdale.
DesertInc is reporting that the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transit Authority and DesertXpress officials agreed yesterday on a "goal" to build a "seamless high-speed rail system linking Las Vegas with downtown Los Angeles."Of course, two public-transit-happy agencies agreeing on a shared goal is a long way from a ribbon-cutting. As with most current rail projects fighting to become a reality in Southern California, there will always be some property owner or environmental group or school district who will die fighting to keep a train track out of their backyard.
But the DesertXpress line is, by nature, a rural one, and should make considerably fewer enemies than, say, Metro's Purple Line (which is trying to bulldoze its way through an already overdeveloped Westside).
After months of "familiar arguments" against the DesertXpress, VegasInc has a hard time containing its excitement over the Palmdale deal:
DesertXpress and MTA representatives signed documents that open the door to the Las Vegas-Los Angeles route. The agreement includes a strategy to plan and build a 50-mile high-speed line between Victorville and Palmdale, which would initially connect to Metrolink tracks and eventually be the connection point to California's planned high-speed rail system.
We're guessing Palmdale city officials are popping some bubbly of their own this morning. They actually filed an injunction last year to prevent California High Speed Rail Authority from studying a route along the I-5 instead of through Palmdale, so badly did they want a local station. (We'd contact them for an ecstatic quote, but all city offices pretty much close down on Fridays. Budget cuts, or something.)
The bullet train from downtown L.A. to Palmdale -- a large piece of the shared Metro/DesertXpress dream -- is another whole headache. But, as noted by Curbed L.A., "even without the direct LA link, many Angelenos would likely drive to Palmdale to avoid the four to six hour slog to Nevada."
Now to the best part: the traincar itself. This is no rickety Bradbury relic, raves the DesertXpress website:
DesertXpress will welcome America to our country's first High Speed passenger EXPERIENCE. From the moment you arrive at the station the EXPERIENCE is designed to deliver convenience and Las Vegas EXCITEMENT. Every train is designed with state of the art amenities featuring all first and business class seating, and specially designed full-service entertainment club cars. Food, beverage, wifi, entertainment, concierge services, flexible club seating arrangements, and full handicap accessibility are just a few of the amenities available on every journey.
We've contacted Metro for a more realistic run-though of the obstacles that still await the DesertXpress, and what kind of timeline we can expect for construction.
The LA Weekly is historically skeptical of California rail proposals -- they're too often underfunded and poorly planned -- but it's hard not to get some butterflies over a party train to Vegas. Just imagine it at EDC time, raver chicks in fairy wings bouncing from car to car for our own 21st century Woodstock.