Is there a bright future for Brightline? – NewsNation Now

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(NewsNation) — The nation’s first truly high-speed passenger train hopes to be shuttling people between Los Angeles and Las Vegas by 2028, when Southern California hosts the Summer Olympics.

But it will take lots of money — from Uncle Sam, two states, private investors and, if you want to take a ride, your pocket.

The company leading the public-private effort, Brightline, hopes to break ground on the 218-mile route later this month in Las Vegas. The train aims to take passengers from just south of the Las Vegas Strip to the L.A. suburb of Rancho Cucamonga in about two hours.

The all-electric train will travel at speeds of about 200 miles per hour. But the final 40 miles into downtown Los Angeles will be a much slower trip via the existing MetroLink rail system.

White House backs Brightline

The nation’s most famous train rider, President Joe Biden, was in Las Vegas last December to announce a $3 billion federal grant for what will be known as Brightline West. The Transportation Department has also authorized $3.5 billion in tax-exempt “private activity bonds.”

The entire Brightline project is currently projected to cost $12 billion.

During his years as a U.S. Senator, Biden would commute daily from his home in Wilmington, Delaware, to Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. via Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains.

Once the train is running, passengers will be making significant contributions: As much a $400 for a round trip ticket, according to Brightline founder and chairman Wes Edens.

He tells the Los Angeles Times it’s a long-term investment that hopefully will inspire more projects. “Our goal is that this is the train that primes the pump. Once you have proof of this one, many more will follow.”

But that price could keep many would-be rail riders away, especially when a plane ticket from Southern California to Las Vegas costs between $40 and $200 and takes less than one hour.

Time or Money?

These days, many Vegas-bound Californians opt to spend time rather than money, investing at least five hours in the drive. This is much longer on weekends, when tens of thousands of Californians rush into Las Vegas on Friday and seemingly leave together on Sunday.

Adding to the driving headache: A southbound bottleneck at the Nevada-California border, where Interstate 15 narrows from three lanes to two for most of the 113 mile stretch from the border to Barstow, California.

Brightline’s hope is that drivers stuck in the I-15 standstill will see the train zipping by and decide to give it a try, despite the price.

Government officials and business owners on both ends of the route are looking for big surges in customers. L.A. hopes the line will bring more people to the Olympics in four years — the same year that Las Vegas hosts the NCAA men’s basketball Final Four.

Also: developers have purchased a big plot of land next to the Las Vegas terminus. They plan to build retail and residential buildings, centered around a new arena that could house an NBA expansion team.

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