Sunday, November 02, 2008

Riding the Rails

Proposition 1A, on the ballot Tuesday in California, would authorize the state to borrow $10 billion as a down payment on a bullet train between LA and San Francisco. Sounds like a cool idea, and anything that moves people around while reducing the number of cars on the road is a step in the right direction, but it sounds like if the project gets built at all it'll be completed around the time mankind invents the warp drive.

Here's my not-so-modest proposal: Build a passenger railway through the desert between LA and Las Vegas. Bullet or otherwise. Fund it with private money from Vegas casino conglomerates and California tourist attractions. Charge a premium to passengers on high-traffic dates, like three-day weekends, on which driving to and from Vegas is hell on wheels. Have slot machines and craps tables on board that are unlocked when the train goes over the Nevada border. After paying back the investors, the train should generate plenty of money to pay for rail systems all over California.

Winners: The environment, the tourist industry in both states, and lots of gamblers.

Losers: The gas stations in Barstow; and The Mad Greek restaurant.

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