Bullet train could bring LA and San Francisco closer Gov. Jerry Brown and his wife Anne Gust sign a portion of the rail at the California High Speed Rail Authority ground breaking event (AP photos)
Bullet train could bring LA and San Francisco closer
Lexile

California has broken ground for its $68 billion high-speed rail system, promising to combat global warming while whisking travelers between Los Angeles and San Francisco in less than three hours.

The bullet train project, the first in the nation to get underway, faces challenges from cost-cutters in Congress and farmers suing to keep the rails off their fields. Others doubt the state can deliver the sleek system as designed, and worry it will become an expensive failure.

But Gov. Jerry Brown said high-speed rail is essential to meeting his latest goal. He wants the nation's most populous state to get half its power from renewable energy by 2030.

"It's not that expensive. We can afford it. In fact, we cannot NOT afford it," Brown said. "All these projects are a little touch and go. You'll have these critics say 'why spend all this money?'"

"On the other hand I like trains, I like clean air," Brown said. "And I like to enjoy the comfort of trains. I like to get up and walk around and shake hands. You can't do that in your little car as you look in your rearview mirror."

One of the biggest public works endeavors in the country, California's high-speed rail is a signature project for Brown's political legacy, and supporters say it promises to boost the state's economy with thousands of jobs, including many in the Central Valley, which has been hard-hit by recession and drought.

Zooming through the Central Valley at 200 mph, the trains could unite northern and southern California like never before.

The high-speed train tickets will be similar to the cost of air travel, promoters say, and deliver people to downtown stations, saving more time and money. Fares are projected to run from $81 to $89 one-way between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

By comparison, riding Amtrak between east San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles now takes 11 to 19 hours, and costs $59 to $138 each way. That rivals the expense of an airline flight, which takes about an hour and 15 minutes.

By car, the journey takes at least 6 1/2 hours in the best traffic, and the price varies widely depending on the type of car, gasoline prices and highway tolls.

Gina McCarthy, administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, said the all-electric trains, running on renewable energy, will take cars off highways and provide an effective alternative to flying on jet fuel, which pumps far more greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.

High-speed rail is good for our health, it is good for our climate and it is good for our economy," she said.

About a dozen protesters shouted "show me the money" during the groundbreaking, which was held in an industrial section of downtown Fresno, where the city's bullet train station will be located near old rail lines that still ship produce and other cargo. The system will initially share existing rails with freight trains, but the plan is for it to eventually travel at higher speeds on dedicated rails.

Californians approved a nearly $10 billion bond for the train in 2008, and in 2012 the federal government dedicated $3.3 billion in stimulus funds. Part of the greenhouse gas fees to be collected under the state's cap-and-trade program also will go to the train.

Bullet train systems make money in other countries, and California officials are banking on this one to entice private investments and development around the stations to offset the costs.

The initial work is on a 142-mile stretch north and south of Fresno. By 2029, planners hope to complete 520 miles of rails linking the San Francisco's downtown Transbay Terminal to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Critical thinking challenge: San Francisco and Los Angeles are hundreds of miles apart. How will the bullet train make the cities seem closer?

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COMMENTS (24)
  • sl2000soccer
    1/26/2015 - 08:39 a.m.

    The bullet train can make the two of these places seem closer because it goes faster than a car and does not have any traffic. You don't have to go in to an airport and wait for hours to board a plane and can just go on the train with the same expense as a plane. The expense may be even more than the train so you also get a discount. If people use the bullet train to go places, it would make life easier.

  • r2000soccer
    1/26/2015 - 08:40 a.m.

    The bullet train will make cities seem closer because this is the fastest train. It take 11 to 19 hours to go east San Francisco Bay to Los Angles but if people ride this bullet train this will go a lot faster and its cheaper than air flight.

  • Son_Of_Zeus
    1/26/2015 - 01:10 p.m.

    I think this idea is a really good economic idea beacause california will make more money of the tickets and the reason it makes the two cites seem closer is beacause it will take less time to get their.

  • jeremiahsa-Wal
    1/26/2015 - 02:03 p.m.

    I think this is a good and bad idea at the same time. One one hand you are spending lots of money and on the other you are making a clean efficient way to transport people.

  • jeremiahsa-Wal
    1/26/2015 - 02:03 p.m.

    I think this is a good and bad idea at the same time. One one hand you are spending lots of money and on the other you are making a clean efficient way to transport people.

  • deondrei-Lam
    1/26/2015 - 03:53 p.m.

    I think that's cool that they're making a bullet train. Imagine how much faster people can get from San Francisco to LA. You wouldn't have to worry about traffic jams.

  • jamieu-Lam
    1/26/2015 - 04:35 p.m.

    A bullet train would be great for LA and San Francisco. They travel to places much faster, and people won't spread pollution on our earth. Airplanes, cars, taxis, etc. spread pollution into the air which isn't healthy for us to breathe.

  • NickB-2
    1/26/2015 - 06:57 p.m.

    This article is about a bullet train. California has pitched in 68 million dollars to make a bullet train between LA and SF. It will be able to travel at 200 mph. It will cost around the same price as an airline ticket, and use renewable energy to speed people from place to place. I think that this is a great idea.

  • CharismaM
    1/26/2015 - 07:31 p.m.

    These trains will make traveling between the 2 cities much easier. It will cut down on the amount of travel time and people will probably travel more often.

  • KingCj
    1/27/2015 - 03:54 p.m.

    I like riding in fast things at 200mph. This will make my life better. And a lot of money means a lot of cool things added.

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