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Japanese JR-Maglev  (Source: Yosemite)
Government funnels $45M into maglev proposal.

President Bush signed a transportation bill that will help fund a high speed maglev train between Disneyland and Las Vegas. The initial $45M investment will be used for environmental studies to evaluate construction impact on one portion of the proposed maglev route.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., showed support of the project and said the maglev train "will safely and efficiently move people between southern California and Las Vegas."

As more nations begin to roll out maglev train systems, critics in the U.S. grow increasingly frustrated over the lack of support of organized high speed trains in the United States.

With speeds up to 300 MPH, the maglev train will be able to transport passengers between the two locations, about 250 miles apart, in less than two hours. Most drivers who go from the Los Angeles or Anaheim area to Las Vegas are forced to take Interstate 15, but the highway routinely is clogged with gridlock during rush hour.

Congress must now choose the maglev system over other train projects under consideration by the government, including a diesel-electric train that was proposed after a 2005 funding mishap that delayed the Disneyland-Las Vegas line. Japan was the first nation to launch a diesel-hybrid train system, but the train was twice as expensive to build as a regular train.

The United States Maglev Coalition (USMC) is an organization wanting to develop maglev technology in the U.S. The group helped the federal government fix a September 2005 report that "unfairly and erroneously criticized maglev's costs while ignoring its benefits."

Maglev trains are extremely expensive to create, so $45M could easily lead to a multi-billion dollar investment. The Shanghai maglev train network cost almost $30M per mile to create, and a proposed route in Japan is estimated to cost up to $82B to complete.

Germany, Canada, England, China and Japan are included in the small selection of countries that either have working maglev systems or are testing maglev technology.



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RE: It's a small world afterall
By Googer on 6/9/2008 12:54:34 AM , Rating: 1
How about changing the route so that every day people can benefit instead of tourists? I believe the impact would be much greater and profitable. Make the maglev train circle LA and relieve some congestion.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By Nik00117 on 6/9/2008 1:51:38 AM , Rating: 5
Because maglevs are meant for long distance trips, not around one city.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By spluurfg on 6/9/2008 4:08:34 AM , Rating: 5
If there really is such a vast quantity of people moving between Disneyland and Vegas, I can see how this would be a great idea, but in my mind (and without the benefit of reading a case study done by professionals) the issues would be:

(1) it'd be very seasonal... there won't be any commutors whatsoever taking advantage of this, so the cost basis would need to be justified averaging the ridership throughout the year, yet the project would still need to meet peak-season capacity

(2) the benefit would be largely limited to Disney and Vegas to replace flying routes -- Socal is very much a driving oriented area, so if you intend to go anywhere else, you'll want to rent a car, which may dent the convenience factor somewhat

I'm not saying it's a bad idea, but I would want the case to be made to me from a cost/benefit analysis standpoint considering the huge capital required for maglevs. But gosh... $45m for just the environmental analysis of a portion of the route?

On an unrelated note, United States Maglev Coalition? Couldn't they have chosen an acronym that isn't the same as the United States Marine Corps? I believe one is fairly well established....


RE: It's a small world afterall
By BladeVenom on 6/9/2008 7:25:37 AM , Rating: 2
There use to be a train route there and it went out of business.

My questions are why they think this will do better, and why do they need to do another environmental study?


RE: It's a small world afterall
By therealnickdanger on 6/9/2008 7:35:07 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
why do they need to do another environmental study?

What if the train route crossed near the burrows of the rare Kolangi Spitting Spider? Would you want that on your conscience?

Yeah, that's what I thought.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By Samus on 6/10/2008 2:13:20 AM , Rating: 2
There is also a great deal of lead and mercury involved with the JR, I'm sure our implementation won't be much different. That can have environmental impact during construction.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By masher2 (blog) on 6/9/2008 10:39:00 AM , Rating: 5
> "But gosh... $45m for just the environmental analysis of a portion of the route?"

And some people still don't believe me, when I say environmental restrictions are strangling new construction and economic growth in this country.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By noxipoo on 6/9/2008 10:45:20 AM , Rating: 3
unrestricted growth will get just as many people yelling about the pollution that comes. china isn't exactly clean these day, first hand experience.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By masher2 (blog) on 6/9/2008 11:01:02 AM , Rating: 4
This maglev train will cut pollution, not increase it. That "environmental study" takes all of 30 seconds to perform.

The $45M being spent here is not to study pollution, but the effects of construction on the millions of animal species which lie somewhere along the route.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By Lifted on 6/9/2008 11:55:28 AM , Rating: 4
In Washington these environmental studies are simply used to put a project on the back burners for a while, so the politicians can tell the airlines, Detrioit, or whoever else they are pandering to that they have done good.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By TomZ on 6/9/2008 2:53:43 PM , Rating: 2
Forget about it. This project is pure "pork" - a small government handout of taxpayer dollars for no good reason (except to the recipient).

Besides, we're never going to have a maglev linking those two cities because the idea is completely stupid. The reason it is stupid is because of the cost to build (50-100 billion!?!) - it is a complete and total waste of money, whether it be taxpayer dollars or private dollars.

After all, if it even remotely made some sense, it wouldn't be hard to find investors willing to put up the money, and the thing would have been built years ago.

People who think we need maglev in the US haven't thought it through... Just wishing for cool toys doesn't make them make any sense economically.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By spluurfg on 6/9/2008 3:35:15 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
After all, if it even remotely made some sense, it wouldn't be hard to find investors willing to put up the money, and the thing would have been built years ago.


True, but that's partly due to the burden of being the first market entrant. Since there isn't much maglev construction, there are very high capital costs. The argument is that if the Government fosters some projects, the industry will develop and building lines will be cheaper. Commercial aviation, for example, benefited from aircraft development during WW2. There's a similar idea being employed for commercial wind farms -- they get tax breaks so that as volume of large windmill blades increases, for example, cost per part decreases and commercial viability increases.

Whether maglevs will work out anyway -- anybody's guess.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By TomZ on 6/9/2008 3:49:05 PM , Rating: 2
I agree, but in the case of WWII, there was a compelling need for that investment. In this case, the government funding something like maglev seems to have very few benefits to the taxpayers.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By FITCamaro on 6/9/2008 4:23:01 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly. You're basically making everyone pay for a system that only a small fraction of people will use.

If I want lunch, should I be allowed to go take a dollar out of the people around me's wallets?


RE: It's a small world afterall
By spluurfg on 6/9/2008 6:22:58 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Exactly. You're basically making everyone pay for a system that only a small fraction of people will use.


Well, the flipside is that if the government never stumps up for anything, certain technologies will take longer (or may never) get momentum. If they can get the maglev industry going to the point where the cost per mile of track drops significantly, it could become economically sensible for a much larger number of projects throughout the US, thus potentially benefiting many.

quote:
If I want lunch, should I be allowed to go take a dollar out of the people around me's wallets?


Nope, that'd be stealing. Is this really the same?


RE: It's a small world afterall
By androticus on 6/10/2008 10:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
previous poster's comment equating stealing lunch money from others with govt appropriations for things like maglev
quote:

Nope, that'd be stealing. Is this really the same?


It never fails to amaze me the degree to which people will evade the nature of an act and mindlessly sanctify any and all forms of government appropriation under the rubric of "democracy" or whatever they think justifies it. And then when you try to push it a bit and ask if "democratic" victimization or discrimination are ok, they get all huffy and scream "that isn't the same thing."

No, it is never the same thing, is it?

The only *moral* act of a government is one that protects its citizens' rights to their lives and property. Anything else is just the mob justifying its immoral use of force under the cowardly rubric of "democracy".

Yes, I would favor a PRIVATELY FUNDED maglev. No, I will not accept that taking people's hard-earned money by force to pay for a government funded maglev, is ok.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By spluurfg on 6/12/2008 5:40:42 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
It never fails to amaze me the degree to which people will evade the nature of an act and mindlessly sanctify any and all forms of government appropriation under the rubric of "democracy" or whatever they think justifies it.


quote:
Yes, I would favor a PRIVATELY FUNDED maglev. No, I will not accept that taking people's hard-earned money by force to pay for a government funded maglev, is ok.


Who's sanctifying it? I think it's obviously different from stealing, I didn't say that it's the best use of tax money. That's up to feasibility studies such as this one to determine, so that elected officials can make an informed decision.

quote:
The only *moral* act of a government is one that protects its citizens' rights to their lives and property. Anything else is just the mob justifying its immoral use of force under the cowardly rubric of "democracy".


So are you opposed to your tax money going to any and all infrastructure projects? Should the US highway and transportation appropriations be $0 per state? Should minicipal and state run education systems be abolished?

You may feel that the maglev lies outside the boundaries of sensible use of tax dollars -- if so, write to your local representative. However, I encourage you to be realistic about the way that public services must function.


By Mojo the Monkey on 6/13/2008 3:53:32 PM , Rating: 2
what a narrow view you have. people in the area have been begging for this kind of system for years. A station in Anaheim will service people from the north LA valleys down to San Clemente - many millions of people. This project will also serve as a test platform for other highly traveled, long distance routes in other parts of the country.

quote:
You're basically making everyone pay for a system that only a small fraction of people will use.


Yeah, programs like handicapped access, closed captioning for the def, braille on signs for the blind, federal funding in the limb prosthesis research... ALL A CRIME ON THE TAXPAYER, right? [sarcasm]. Because by your definition, this tiny, insignificant portion of the population who will benefit is just robbing your wallet.

Public works are expensive in the short run, but the idea is progressive ongoing benefit to the general population's quality of life. If you only worked on projects for the absolute majority every time, woe unto you if you ever fall outside the curve.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By teldar on 6/9/2008 6:50:04 PM , Rating: 3
I dont' know that there wouldn't be benefit to a whole lot more people if the technology matured.

Imagine 8 maglev trains in the country. One north and south bound on each coast and one east and west bound across the middle and south of the country. 5 stops per train per route or less.

NY to Florida in 5 hours including stops on the way.

8 hours from NY to Portland or SF with stops in St Louis Denver and Salt Lake City.

Jacksonville to LA with stops in New Orleans, Houston, (or dallas or austin) and phoenix.
It would be worth it for cross country travel alone.

T


RE: It's a small world afterall
By Jedi2155 on 6/10/2008 9:12:21 PM , Rating: 2
But you forgot about Ogdenville, North Haverbrook, and Brockway!!!!


By Mojo the Monkey on 6/13/2008 3:54:51 PM , Rating: 2
...and it sure put them on the map!

monorail, monorail, monorail


RE: It's a small world afterall
By Machinegear on 6/10/2008 2:42:35 PM , Rating: 2
If people want a high speed train, the government needs to give citizens back their tax dollars so they can build it. The government is not in the rail business, or any business at all. The only function our US government currently serves is:

1.) Confiscate citizen wealth
2.) Start a war (pick a country that can't fight back)
3.) Divert citizen wealth under domestic "programs/projects"

(repeat steps 1 - 3 every year)

These so called projects the government releases to the public are insulting. They have no substance. They are only the latest working title given to an old scam.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By Ringold on 6/9/2008 3:03:37 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
That "environmental study" takes all of 30 seconds to perform. The $45M being spent here


30 seconds

45 million

I'm clearly in the wrong business. :P


RE: It's a small world afterall
By bespoke on 6/9/2008 6:04:09 PM , Rating: 3
There is a huge need for a high-speed rail link between LA and Vegas. Around any major holiday, I-15 is a parking lot. In ideal conditions (now no longer possible, due to constant congestion), the car trip from LA (Anaheim area) to Vegas would take 5 hours. On a regular day, I think it now takes 6 to 7 hours, and on a three day weekend, well, you're looking at 10 hours.

As for air travel, the 4 airports of the greater LA area do have literally hundreds of flights per day to Vegas, but once again, on holidays those flights are incredibly booked, plus everyone knows what a hassle it is to go to the airport these days.

Yes, this could be considered a government handout, but the without government handouts, this series of tubes we're using would not exist.


RE: It's a small world afterall
By JonnyDough on 6/10/2008 1:39:36 AM , Rating: 2
Agreed. Do we really need to be super-commuting people into the desert to gamble? Couldn't we get Mexico and Canada on board this idea and have a north/south train that makes a few major stops so that we don't have to fly so much between these NAFTA countries? What would this do for trade? Wouldn't it be a lot more efficient than airplanes? If we could send international postal freight from Panama to Canada we could eliminate the need for a few small jets I'm sure, plus cut down on emissions. Now if they would just get smart and build it above the ground on concrete pillars with wire mesh protection and safety features (like a tiny zip-lev to go ahead of the train and check the track).


RE: It's a small world afterall
By ccmfreak2 on 6/10/2008 4:32:11 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
1) it'd be very seasonal... there won't be any commutors whatsoever taking advantage of this, so the cost basis would need to be justified averaging the ridership throughout the year, yet the project would still need to meet peak-season capacity


On this basis ALONE I am against this idea. There are plenty of other things our tax dollars can be spent on than an environmental study of a train system promoting tourist routes. If this maglev is going to go through, then the affected parties (Disneyland and the City of Las Vegas) needs to be the one flipping the bill. I'm sick of watching Washington waste our money!


By Mojo the Monkey on 6/13/2008 3:58:30 PM , Rating: 2
If this thing goes through, I can pretty much guarantee you that less than 5% of the commuters on the train would be "disneyland tourists". The locals in a 60 miles radius are chomping at the bit for this thing. It will also relieve traffic on the 91/15 and the 10 as far west as Los Angeles and Riverside.

As to the other half of your argument, I agree. On the Nevada side, the Casinos are surely the main benefactor and should be prompted to pay something.


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