• Virgin (XpressWest/DesertXpress) Las Vegas - Victorville - Los Angeles

  • This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida and Virgin Trains USA:
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This is a forum for all operations, both current and planned, of Brightline, formerly All Aboard Florida and Virgin Trains USA:
Websites: Current Brightline
Virgin USA
Virgin UK

Moderator: CRail

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  by BiZzAr0
 
jamesinclair wrote:Any updates?

I was a big fan of this project, but last month I went to las vegas from Fresno. Allegiant air was offering $19 tickets so we went by air instead of driving (its a 6-7 hour drive) (taxes were actually higher than the fare!)

Being in Las Vegas without a car made it painfully obvious how badly the city is designed for the pedestrian. It seems like everything was done on las vegas blvd to hinder pedestrian movement. Even the brand new city center development, supposedly a LEED project went out of its way to screw over pedestrian access. They even built an aerial tram, which we rode....but it's useless for transportation, it seems to be designed to give the complex a cool factor, something to look at but never use.

On our 3rd day, we rented a car to visit hoover dam, and in the evening made a few stops along the strip.... the experience was completely different. Ample free parking, wide streets and direct access points for those in vehicles.


The point is this: Even with cheap, amazing train service, I dont think people will ride more than once. They might be thrilled with the quality of service provided on the train, but will hate their time as a pedestrian in the city. Considering every parking spot in las vegas is free, they will say screw it and drive next time. Even worse, who wants to drive to the desert to chain travel modes? Might as well stay in the car a little longer.

Unfortunately, I think this will be a failure. (But am still excited to see construction pictures)
I'm not sure your experience really the same for everyone. When I was there, I didn't really encounter the same problem. But in case you're actually right, the website has information about this:
We understand that for the train to be successful, it has to be easy and convenient for travelers both to and from Las Vegas and Southern California. The Victorville station will be located adjacent to the I-15 freeway and provide easy parking with optional valet service. The plan is for the "Las Vegas Experience" to start in Victorville with valet service, hotel check-in and through-checking of baggage straight to the resorts, and with convenient car rental facilities for the Southern California–bound travelers. Once in Las Vegas, there will be convenient access to the Las Vegas resorts with shuttle service, rental cars, taxis and potentially a direct connection to the Las Vegas Monorail.
  by jamesinclair
 
BiZzAr0 wrote:
Unfortunately, I think this will be a failure. (But am still excited to see construction pictures)
I'm not sure your experience really the same for everyone. When I was there, I didn't really encounter the same problem. But in case you're actually right, the website has information about this:
We understand that for the train to be successful, it has to be easy and convenient for travelers both to and from Las Vegas and Southern California. The Victorville station will be located adjacent to the I-15 freeway and provide easy parking with optional valet service. The plan is for the "Las Vegas Experience" to start in Victorville with valet service, hotel check-in and through-checking of baggage straight to the resorts, and with convenient car rental facilities for the Southern California–bound travelers. Once in Las Vegas, there will be convenient access to the Las Vegas resorts with shuttle service, rental cars, taxis and potentially a direct connection to the Las Vegas Monorail.
I'm not talking about getting to the hotel, Im talking about the entire las vegas experience. That means, walking a mile to cross the street because you're only allowed to cross the strip at very few intersections, a monorail system that is only useful for convention center guests, and a bus system that rivals a pregnant mother pushing a stroller in speed.

Even those using a shuttle bus to get from the airport (or from the future train station) are treated as 2nd class. While cabs and private vehicles pull up the the hotel main entrances, shuttle buses must detour via long, 5mph service roads to arrive at side entrances. There's nothing quite like having your arrival to the Paris hotel be delayed because your shuttle bus has to wait for a dump truck to reverse into a loading dock.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
 
jamesinclair wrote: Even those using a shuttle bus to get from the airport (or from the future train station) are treated as 2nd class. While cabs and private vehicles pull up the the hotel main entrances, shuttle buses must detour via long, 5mph service roads to arrive at side entrances. There's nothing quite like having your arrival to the Paris hotel be delayed because your shuttle bus has to wait for a dump truck to reverse into a loading dock.
Actually, I've always entered Vegas casinos from the huge parking garage structures at the rear. I've never used the valet service at any of the big hotel/casinos, although it does exist.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
 
BiZzAr0 wrote:
jamesinclair wrote:Any updates?

I was a big fan of this project, but last month I went to las vegas from Fresno. Allegiant air was offering $19 tickets so we went by air instead of driving (its a 6-7 hour drive) (taxes were actually higher than the fare!)

Being in Las Vegas without a car made it painfully obvious how badly the city is designed for the pedestrian. It seems like everything was done on las vegas blvd to hinder pedestrian movement. Even the brand new city center development, supposedly a LEED project went out of its way to screw over pedestrian access. They even built an aerial tram, which we rode....but it's useless for transportation, it seems to be designed to give the complex a cool factor, something to look at but never use.

On our 3rd day, we rented a car to visit hoover dam, and in the evening made a few stops along the strip.... the experience was completely different. Ample free parking, wide streets and direct access points for those in vehicles.


The point is this: Even with cheap, amazing train service, I dont think people will ride more than once. They might be thrilled with the quality of service provided on the train, but will hate their time as a pedestrian in the city. Considering every parking spot in las vegas is free, they will say screw it and drive next time. Even worse, who wants to drive to the desert to chain travel modes? Might as well stay in the car a little longer.

Unfortunately, I think this will be a failure. (But am still excited to see construction pictures)
I'm not sure your experience really the same for everyone. When I was there, I didn't really encounter the same problem. But in case you're actually right, the website has information about this:
We understand that for the train to be successful, it has to be easy and convenient for travelers both to and from Las Vegas and Southern California. The Victorville station will be located adjacent to the I-15 freeway and provide easy parking with optional valet service. The plan is for the "Las Vegas Experience" to start in Victorville with valet service, hotel check-in and through-checking of baggage straight to the resorts, and with convenient car rental facilities for the Southern California–bound travelers. Once in Las Vegas, there will be convenient access to the Las Vegas resorts with shuttle service, rental cars, taxis and potentially a direct connection to the Las Vegas Monorail.
I would have thought that DesertXpress would have been anxious to delete any reference to the bankrupt Las Vegas Monorail from the their website?

In any case, Las Vegas is a very car friendly city, since it is in the interest of every casino to provide free parking to guests. Vegas is a high volume, very competitive, market for rental cars due to the huge number of people who fly in - Vegas is also a very competitive airline market. This is a car that is ruled by the automobile, despite the pedestrian friendly nature of the strip. Okay, it's a long, long walk from downtown Vegas to the end of the strip, but it can be done.
  by jamesinclair
 
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:
I would have thought that DesertXpress would have been anxious to delete any reference to the bankrupt Las Vegas Monorail from the their website?

In any case, Las Vegas is a very car friendly city, since it is in the interest of every casino to provide free parking to guests. Vegas is a high volume, very competitive, market for rental cars due to the huge number of people who fly in - Vegas is also a very competitive airline market. This is a car that is ruled by the automobile, despite the pedestrian friendly nature of the strip. Okay, it's a long, long walk from downtown Vegas to the end of the strip, but it can be done.
Monorail is bankrupt, but like GM and the airlines, that doesnt stop them from operating and planning expansion.

You aren't lieing when you say it's a competitive rental car market. Our car cost 19.99 (+ tax and insurance) for 24 hours. I'd never seen anything like that before.

And yes, every casino pretty much offer free parking to compete. Most offer free valet service. Only way to change that culture is by adding some kind of tax, so as to force drivers to pay to park.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
 
jamesinclair wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:
I would have thought that DesertXpress would have been anxious to delete any reference to the bankrupt Las Vegas Monorail from the their website?

In any case, Las Vegas is a very car friendly city, since it is in the interest of every casino to provide free parking to guests. Vegas is a high volume, very competitive, market for rental cars due to the huge number of people who fly in - Vegas is also a very competitive airline market. This is a car that is ruled by the automobile, despite the pedestrian friendly nature of the strip. Okay, it's a long, long walk from downtown Vegas to the end of the strip, but it can be done.
Monorail is bankrupt, but like GM and the airlines, that doesnt stop them from operating and planning expansion.
Yes, but invoking the Las Vegas Monorail isn't a bright idea if you're trying to find private investors for a passenger rail proposal.
jamesinclair wrote:You aren't lieing when you say it's a competitive rental car market. Our car cost 19.99 (+ tax and insurance) for 24 hours. I'd never seen anything like that before.
Sometimes it's actually less expensive to fly into Vegas, rent a car, and pay for the additional gas, even if you final destination is in California or Arizona. Actually, the difference in rental car rates in Vegas and other major urban centers is often enough to cover the cost of gasoline, so 6 or 7 hours of driving time is no big deal. Actually, driving in the Nevada desert is a relaxing, scenic experience.
jamesinclair wrote:And yes, every casino pretty much offer free parking to compete. Most offer free valet service. Only way to change that culture is by adding some kind of tax, so as to force drivers to pay to park.
Yes, but the casinos are offering free parking on their own property, not public property. They're not doing out of generosity, but to attract guests, gamblers and shoppers. Any move by the municipality to "tax" parking would discourage casino patronage, lowering state and local revenues. In other words, the entire purpose of free parking to to accommodate car culture.
  by jamesinclair
 
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:
jamesinclair wrote:
Monorail is bankrupt, but like GM and the airlines, that doesnt stop them from operating and planning expansion.
Yes, but invoking the Las Vegas Monorail isn't a bright idea if you're trying to find private investors for a passenger rail proposal.
Fair point. However, not including a reference to them isnt going to make naysayers forget the monorail problems. On the other hand, it makes those not familiar with the monorail financial difficulties see a rosier future with a sleek high speed train sharing a station with a modern monorail.
goodnightjohnwayne wrote:
jamesinclair wrote: And yes, every casino pretty much offer free parking to compete. Most offer free valet service. Only way to change that culture is by adding some kind of tax, so as to force drivers to pay to park.
Yes, but the casinos are offering free parking on their own property, not public property. They're not doing out of generosity, but to attract guests, gamblers and shoppers. Any move by the municipality to "tax" parking would discourage casino patronage, lowering state and local revenues. In other words, the entire purpose of free parking to to accommodate car culture.
Even if theyre offering free parking on private property, it can be taxed. Im thinking of the recent DC tax on paper and plastic bags - stores arent allowed to eat the cost, the 5 cent fee must be presented to the customers because part of the reason the tax exists is to lower use of bags (the second reason is to raise money for river cleanup).

I dont think adding a fee would discourage patronage as long as the fee is applied to all casinos in the region. Nobody will say "screw paying $1 to park in vegas, Im going to reno". However, it will help in the calculations individuals may make to see if it's more cost effective to drive or to take the train to vegas. Instead of parking being free, now that's $5-$10 for the trip, which may be more than using the local bus transit.


Train service and local transit must go hand in hand. I think it is in the best interest for the state of nevada (and the casinos) to have more tourists arrive without cars. As long as the casinos and the city continue to go out of their way to encourage car use by tourists, the train will suffer.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
 
jamesinclair wrote: Even if theyre offering free parking on private property, it can be taxed. Im thinking of the recent DC tax on paper and plastic bags - stores arent allowed to eat the cost, the 5 cent fee must be presented to the customers because part of the reason the tax exists is to lower use of bags (the second reason is to raise money for river cleanup).

I dont think adding a fee would discourage patronage as long as the fee is applied to all casinos in the region. Nobody will say "screw paying $1 to park in vegas, Im going to reno". However, it will help in the calculations individuals may make to see if it's more cost effective to drive or to take the train to vegas. Instead of parking being free, now that's $5-$10 for the trip, which may be more than using the local bus transit.


Train service and local transit must go hand in hand. I think it is in the best interest for the state of nevada (and the casinos) to have more tourists arrive without cars. As long as the casinos and the city continue to go out of their way to encourage car use by tourists, the train will suffer.
Considering the general downturn in casino gaming due to the overcapacity in the industry as a whole, and the collapse of employment in Las Vegas in particular, even a minimal parking tax would serve to drive away business. After all, Las Vegas faces more competition than ever before, both within the state and from various Native American and other out-of-state casinos. Do anything to discourage visitors, and you'd further exacerbate an already dismal employment picture. Does anyone want to go to Vegas, spending hundreds, if not thousand per day on food, lodging, gambling, just to be "encouraged" to ride a dirty transit bus, or schlep to the inconvenient, failed monorail? Is that any way to attract big spending, high rollers? If you attempt to force people to use public transit in a city that was built around the automobile, they will drive elsewhere. There are plenty of places to gamble. Even a token parking fee might have catastrophic consequences, costing Vegas more revenue than it would collect.

In the end, it would be far better to liquidate the Las Vegas Monorail, which is an utterly useless conveyance, than to prop it up with any form of public support. Of course, the same is true of the publicly supported, little used "people movers" in Jacksonville and Detroit, both of which should have been shut down years ago.

The DesertXpress represents a proposal without any real merit, which would be fine and good if it was based solely on private funding. I'd be more than glad to see private investors and foreign suppliers lose money on a train line to nowhere, but the real problem with DesertXpress is that it's serving as an ideological deterrent to restoring Amtrak service to Las Vegas. The simple truth is that there is a real market for a daily, daylight train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Truth be known, even a tri-weekly Salt Lake City-Las Vegas-Los Angeles train in the form of a revived Desert Wind would be preferable to a laughable HSR line that terminates in the-middle-of-nowhere.

I'm not going to touch the issue of a plastic bag tax in Washington D.C., a city that has the most inept elected governement in the United States. Yes, you can tax most anything, but in a place where poverty and crime are rampant, plastic shopping bags are only a minor annoyance.
  by Nasadowsk
 
goodnightjohnwayne wrote: The simple truth is that there is a real market for a daily, daylight train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Truth be known, even a tri-weekly Salt Lake City-Las Vegas-Los Angeles train in the form of a revived Desert Wind would be preferable to a laughable HSR line that terminates in the-middle-of-nowhere
Then why did Amtrak drop the route if it's such a no brainer?
  by goodnightjohnwayne
 
Nasadowsk wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote: The simple truth is that there is a real market for a daily, daylight train between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Truth be known, even a tri-weekly Salt Lake City-Las Vegas-Los Angeles train in the form of a revived Desert Wind would be preferable to a laughable HSR line that terminates in the-middle-of-nowhere
Then why did Amtrak drop the route if it's such a no brainer?
Read my statement. I'm simply stating that even a three-day-a-week overnight train would be less of a money loser than a new-built HSR line that terminates in the middle of nowhere.

Looking back to the politics of the late 90s, the Desert Wind and Pioneer were dropped due funding issues, as well as rolling stock allocation issues. In the end, it was simply more viable to drop these two routes, while at the same time increasing the Empire Builder, California Zephyr and City of New Orleans to daily service.
  by Nasadowsk
 
goodnightjohnwayne wrote: Looking back to the politics of the late 90s, the Desert Wind and Pioneer were dropped due funding issues, as well as rolling stock allocation issues. In the end, it was simply more viable to drop these two routes, while at the same time increasing the Empire Builder, California Zephyr and City of New Orleans to daily service.
In other words, passengers weren't using it and Amtrak was wasting their money that could have been used better elsewhere.

i.e., the public didn't want it.
  by goodnightjohnwayne
 
Nasadowsk wrote:
goodnightjohnwayne wrote: Looking back to the politics of the late 90s, the Desert Wind and Pioneer were dropped due funding issues, as well as rolling stock allocation issues. In the end, it was simply more viable to drop these two routes, while at the same time increasing the Empire Builder, California Zephyr and City of New Orleans to daily service.
In other words, passengers weren't using it and Amtrak was wasting their money that could have been used better elsewhere.

i.e., the public didn't want it.
No, there were many factors leading to the demise of the Desert Wind. There were also a number of factors that precluded a daylight Los Angeles to Las Vegas Amtrak train - UP had its own major issues at the time. Right now, the biggest obstacle on a political level is the DesertXpress proposal.
  by Nasadowsk
 
goodnightjohnwayne wrote: No, there were many factors leading to the demise of the Desert Wind.
In other words, the ridership wasn't there to make it worth dealing with the 'many factors'. There's other routes which were/are headaches, but they run because they get the ridership. Look at the Downeaster, for one.
There were also a number of factors that precluded a daylight Los Angeles to Las Vegas Amtrak train - UP had its own major issues at the time.
So what? Railroads have 'issues' all the time, Amtrak doesn't just go dropping routes.
Right now, the biggest obstacle on a political level is the DesertXpress proposal.
In other words, something better came along and nobody wants a slow, unreliable Amtrak train anymore. Boo hoo.
  by amtrakowitz
 
In other words, the ridership wasn't there to make it worth dealing with the 'many factors'
No, that's not the case. Two years before cutting the Desert Wind altogether, the service was cut from daily to thrice weekly. Then when it was cut (along with the Pioneer), the equipment got shifted to the California Zephyr. Same old politicking.
  by lpetrich
 
California High Speed Rail Blog » DesertXpress On Track To Break Ground This Year
reports on
Work on high-speed rail set to begin this year - Thursday, March 25, 2010 | 6:03 p.m. - Las Vegas Sun
Environmental approvals for the proposed $4 billion DesertXpress high-speed rail project between Las Vegas and Southern California are taking longer than expected, but executives with the project said Thursday they expect construction to begin this year. ...

Last year, developers of the 185-mile rail line that would link Las Vegas with Victorville, Calif., said they hoped they would get final environmental approvals by the end of the first quarter of 2010 and that they would be able to break ground by summer. But Stone said the process is running three to four months behind what they had hoped, although they still expect a groundbreaking before the end of the year.

Construction is expected to take four years, meaning that revenue service for the train could begin by late 2014.

The project includes the construction of two parallel grade-level tracks across the Mohave Desert, mostly along the I-15 corridor and the accompanying electrical catenary. ...

When construction begins, Stone said he expects there would be multiple construction sites throughout the rail corridor at any one time. One of those sites would be a train station in Victorville. Three prospective sites are under consideration, all within close proximity of I-15.

A model of the Victorville station was unveiled at the briefing and Stone noted that it is being designed to allow trains to pass through the structure in anticipation of the line extending west to Palmdale, where it would connect with the proposed California high-speed rail line and a route between Sylmar and Bakersfield.

While work hasn't begun on the 50-mile line between Victorville and Palmdale, Stone said he has received assurances from transportation planners in Southern California that the link would be fast-tracked to enable a direct line between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. Because the California system and DesertXpress would be compatible, Stone said it would be possible for riders to board in Los Angeles and travel without changing trains all the way to Las Vegas. The trip would take between two and 2 1/2 hours, he said.
I think I'll believe it when I see it.

They also still have to decide on a station site in Las Vegas. But in Victorville, they expect to build a 15,000-space parking lot and parking garage; they expect their presence along I-15 to be good advertising for them.

So both Tampa-Orlando and DesertXPress could be completed before the CHSRA's LA - SF line.
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