Finally, A Vegas Train That Makes Sense

Las Vegas Railway Express has signed an agreement with the Union Pacific Railroad to operate a conventional speed train from Fullerton, in Orange County to downtown Las Vegas, according to a story by Michelle Rindells of the Associated Press.

This is not to be confused with the proposed Xpress West (formerly DesertXpress) high-speed rail line which would operate from Victorville to Las Vegas, expecting riders to drive through Los Angeles Basin traffic congestion to get to the station. Further, unlike Xpress West, the Las Vegas Railway Express train would require no financial assistance from taxpayers for its largely leisure travelers. As we indicated previously, our analysis concludes that XpressWest revenues are unlikely to be sufficient to repay a proposed federal loan. This could expose taxpayers to a loss of $5.5 billion or more --- approximately 10 times as great as taxpayer losses in the Solyndra federal loan guarantee debacle.

The Las Vegas Railway Express promoters intend to take the full financial risk, as do most entrepreneurs who start businesses. Moreover, the Las Vegas Railway Express train would operate only when demand is substantial, with all trips between Thursday and Monday. The first trip is tentatively scheduled for New Year's Eve, 2013.

Here's hoping the train is successful and that the owners make at least a competitive return on investment, while providing employees commercially funded (not subsidized) jobs, paying, not consuming taxes and with revenues earned from willing customers, rather than relying on public funding. And just as important, if they fail, taxpayers will not be left holding the bag. That's how things should work.