Titus seeks support to revive Amtrak in Vegas

September 23, 2014

Ever since the federal Department of Transportation’s first National Travel Survey of 1995, Los Angeles-Las Vegas has been the second busiest city pair in the United States, topped only by Los Angeles-San Diego in California.

The Northeast Corridor as defined from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts is not the only part of the United States with a population density and travel patterns suited to passenger trains. More trips are made each day – by automobile, bus, train, airplane and motorcycle – between Los Angeles and San Diego than between any other two points in the U.S more than 100 miles apart, and the second-busiest set of end points is Los Angeles-Las Vegas (except that in the Los Angeles-Las Vegas corridor all trips must be made by highway or air because there is no train service).

Only in the third-busiest pair of end points does the NEC register − with New York-Philadelphia. Yet New York-Philadelphia has 24 Amtrak round trips a day at top speeds of 125 mph, while Los Angeles-San Diego has 11 round trips at no more than 90 mph and Los Angeles-Las Vegas has zero trains at any speed. Los Angeles-Las Vegas and much of the Southwest continues to be the victim of a decades-long dismissal by Amtrak and many in Congress as lacking eligibility for intercity passenger rail service, even though its numbers make it a prime candidate for an immediate passenger-train buildup.

From the Review-Journal:

With glitzier modes of passenger rail seemingly having fallen by the track, Rep. Dina Titus says Las Vegas should look into what it might take to restore conventional Amtrak service to Southern California.

Titus said she’ll be shopping the idea to local leaders and economic development consultants this fall.

She floated the plan last week when the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved an Amtrak bill focused mostly at shoring up service along the Northeast Corridor…

Amtrak dropped its Desert Wind route between Los Angeles and Ogden, Utah, via Las Vegas and Salt Lake City in 1997. Titus confessed she never boarded the Desert Wind, “but I would ride it now.”

“There have been passenger studies, ridership studies in the past but since then our population has grown and our tourist population has grown by 10 million,” she said…

Titus said she planned to meet with House Transportation Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, R-Pa., and to run the idea by Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., who might take some persuading.

Read the rest of the story in the Las Vegas Review-Journal, 21 September 2014.

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