For what it is worth...

February 24, 2009, 8:55 PM · ... a high-speed rail system (a *real* system, with a dedicated, two-way track) that connected Santa Clarita, CA (Magic Mountain) to Universal City (Universal Studios Hollywood) to Downtown Los Angeles to Anaheim (Disneyland) to Riverside to Las Vegas would represent one of the best investments in economic development that the U.S. federal government could make.

The route would get huge daily commuter traffic within the greater LA area, as well as enabling significant economic development in Vegas. Not just tourism, but business relationships outside of the stereotypical casinos and theme parks.

The old model of oil-fueled family cars providing almost the personal transport within and between nearby cities will not be economically and environmentally viable much longer.

Of course, some politicians can't resist trashing public support for any project attached to the name "Disneyland," as if anything associated with a theme park is just some silly children's plaything.

Theme parks are multi-billion dollar businesses, attracting tens of millions of Americans each year. And the biggest ones are not located in random, sleepy little burgs, but within some of the most dynamic local economies in the nation.

So, build the darned rail system! And give us one to San Francisco, too. I'd much rather see billions go to employ hard-working Americans designing and building these rail systems than to prop up the stockholders of the nation's zombie banks. We need somebody to spend some money to get our economy going again. I'd rather we all get something useful for that investment.

That's my $.02. Debate continues in the comments, if anyone's interested. Weaving theme parks into the conversation earns brownie points. :-)

Replies (12)

February 24, 2009 at 9:25 PM · It's funny that you are posting an article on this. I keep hearing about it in the Orlando region as well but I just can't picture it working out too well over here unless they do a big triangle between Daytona to Orlando to Tampa to Miami and back to Daytona.
I'm saying a triangle for the purpose of connecting the Orlando and Tampa for the theme parks as well as cutting back on the I-4 traffic between Tampa and Orlando that happens daily because of the jobs on either end. Connect Orlando to Daytona to add to the tourism excitement of visiting the Theme Park World in Orlando as well as being able to go to Daytona's famous beaches. Again this would cut back the traffic during rush hour between the two areas as well as create more opportunity for those that are not able to afford driving themselves every day back and forth and spending $10 just to go there and back daily instead of lets say spending $2 back and forth daily.
Then add Miami to the equation and you have a dream network for not only Tourists but also for businesses and their workers that is much more affordable than driving one self and less of a hassle than setting up a carpool as well as being more economically friendly.

Now it will cost to build and take time to build it but I think it would be a wise investement in a number of the large economic centers of the United States.

February 24, 2009 at 10:36 PM · Imagine it in Flordia! Scary! Either places sound good, but it probably would work better in CA
February 24, 2009 at 11:19 PM · If I can play Devil's Advocate for a second, are Californians too obsessed with the "me first" attitude? Can Californians detach themselves from driving their own car, having the "freedom" to drive wherever and whenever? Is it possible for public transportation to work in the same way it works in Manhattan and Boston? Or even the some point, San Francisco?

There are many people who would like to see a rail system in California that works, but who would use it?

(Btw, I live in Southern California, and have used the rail systems in Manhattan and Boston and love them... I just don't have any answers to a Californian version)

February 25, 2009 at 1:35 AM · Damn right, Robert!

Build the damn rail!

February 25, 2009 at 5:10 AM · The overwhelming benefits of this proposed transportation network makes the decision a no-brainer in my view.
If anyone visiting Southern California has ever endured the drive from Anaheim to Hollywood and beyond they'd know that what the area needs is a reliable, and fairly direct, public transport system. Even more so when you consider just how many of we tourists are swelling the numbers on the road making it tough on the locals.

Another thing they may want to look at is the connection from Universal to Hollwood. The buses linking with the metro don't run late enough to make it viable. We tried it and it's another example of non-joined-up thinking. So the only alternative is to drive.

I applaud the movement for the new cross rail link. It makes good sense.

February 25, 2009 at 6:53 AM · The bullet train is suppose to run from Orlando airport to Disney to Tampa. The second connection is to Miami. The need for high speed mass transit in the I-4 corridor should be obvious to anyone who sits in traffic in the morning or evening. Coming from a city with an excellent mass transit system you can see the advantages of moving large numbers of people without turning the roads into parking lots.
February 25, 2009 at 7:40 AM · Just because the economy goes bad does not mean we should go spending money on everyone's favorite project. This project would create a lot of temporary construction jobs, and then some permanent jobs for the thing to operate (Maybe 100 people needed). The train will cost $8 BILLION! In my opinion, 8 BILLION DOLLARS can be spend a lot better elsewhere.

Let's say this thing gets built. Who is going to ride it? Obviously the company running it has to make money. How much will a ticket cost? Tickets for the Acela Express run at cheapest around $100 for one way. Surely this would be more. How many will pay that much? This is not economic stimulus, it is Harry Reid's favorite pork project that he wants to pass while he can.

February 25, 2009 at 8:28 AM · I like the idea...even though I cant imagine working with Universal..all theme parks and tourist destinations need to work together to survive the economic crisis, and this is a very smart, albeit, interesting, idea
February 25, 2009 at 9:37 AM · FYI, I'm writing this response on my iPhone as I ride a packed light rail train from Pasadena to downtown LA. So yeah, we *can* get out of our cars. :-)
February 25, 2009 at 9:52 AM · The state of rail travel in the US is so bad. I agree we need more/better railways. Don't get me started with how slow they are and how they cost so much more than air travel. Amtrak costs almost as much as my entire WDW vacation. :/
February 25, 2009 at 3:58 PM · I've read that Orlando has had plans for a bullet train coming from the airport for years, but Disney has put the squash on it because they want the station directly to their property from the airport.....bypassing Universal, Sea World, the convention center, International Drive, and all of the other Orlando attractions and facilities. To put it shortly, the route goes through a small piece of Disney owned (and unused) property, and Disney is using that to try and monopolize public transportation from the airport. A bullet train would have happened in Orlando years ago, if it weren't for everyone's beloved Disney.

They are now talking about changing the route, which would cost a lot of money, but would eliminate the biggest obstacle in the road . Since it's become part of a statewide bullet train project, it may happen soon.

I've recommended this book a few times on TPI. It's an interesting read about Disney World and it's relationship with the city of Orlando and the state of Florida. It's called "Married to the Mouse." There's even a chapter of the book that talks about the bullet train project.

I don't think that projects like these are the solution to our economic problems. While they would help with problems like traffic congestion, oil consumption, and pollution, they would also be run by the government, the same government that got us into this mess in the first place. A cardinal rule of doing business is to not waste money, and to cut loose bad or unproductive employees. If the business of government was a publicly traded company, they all would have been fired or put in jail a long time ago. They can't even tie their shoes without spending a million dollars of our tax money, so why should I put them in charge of a multibillion dollar lightrail system.

February 28, 2009 at 12:21 PM · With our country trillions in debt, this would be a major waste of federal taxes!!!!!

If CA and Vegas want to build this, let those two states pay for it out of there own taxes and don't saddle the rest of the country with the bill!!

And since CA cant pay there bills as it is and is billions in debt with its bloated government there is no reason at all to send taxpayer money from all over the country to pay for this.

We need to be lowering federal spending as all of the debt we are incurring is going to cause major inflation problems down the line.

We need to let banks/auto companies fail if they aren't run properly or cant compete in the global economy. The recession will run its course and the federal government cant get out us out of this by just turning on the printing press's as these bill will have to be paid some day. FDR'S spending didn't get the country out of the depression and neither will the current policies. This country has weathered past recession's without blindly spending money and this one will also pass, but lets do so without leaving our kids/grand kids trillions of dollars to pay off, and that doesnt include the coming money woes with SS/Medicare/Medicad.

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