Good news! In just three years (I'm already calling BS), a new high speed rail line running from Victorville to Las Vegas will be in operation. Apparently learning nothing from previous experience, California has issued $3.2 billion in bonds, which will pay for about 75% of the total projected cost. As the article points out, the expectation that people will drive 90 miles through traffic and mountains from metropolitan Los Angeles to Victorville, then take a train from there to Las Vegas, is more hope than fact. It's easy to see why Virgin Trains USA won't build their route from LA to Victorville. The route over the mountains would easily be quadruple the cost of the level ground portion between Victorville and Las Vegas. The train ride will be 90 minutes, and while cost for a ticket isn't given, it will almost certainly be more than airfare. This raises the obvious question. Who will be stupid enough to drive 2½ hours from central LA to Victorville, then pay for a 1½ hour train ride that dumps you at I-15 and Silverado Ranch Road, about ten miles from the center of the Strip? Driving the 280 miles would take four hours at an average speed of 70 MPH, and the round trip cost for fuel would be around $100. I also checked airfare on Southwest, and purchasing a roundtrip ticket to travel in the first week of January is $99.96, taxes and fees included. The flight takes one hour and twenty minutes. The California Infrastructure and Economic Development Bank (IBank) has authorized a $3.2 billion tax-exempt, fixed-rate revenue bond issuance to help DesertXpress Enterprises LLC, an affiliate of Virgin Trains USA, build a high-speed train from Victorville, California, to Las Vegas. The XpressWest between California and Las Vegas, according to the IBank staff report, will take about half the time of a car trip, but Randal O'Toole, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, isn't convinced that this is enough to draw potential passengers — at least enough to make the new bullet train a success. "If you're driving from Los Angeles to Victorville, by the time you get there, you're pretty much halfway to Vegas," O'Toole said, "so why would you stop and leave your car somewhere and take a train and then have to walk to wherever your destination is — or take a cab or an Uber or Lyft — when you can just drive your car there?" According to O'Toole, though, investment in rail infrastructure is an investment in outdated technology when compared to the cost and speed of airplanes. And then there is the passenger cost. The Amtrak fare from Washington to Boston, he said, averages about 90 cents a mile, while air travel averages approximately 13 cents per mile. Using the 90¢ per mile figure makes a roundtrip train fare $342, and adding 15% for fees and taxes (the fees on the SWA fare are 32%), the round trip cost is $393.30. Earlier this year, I developed a per mile cost for the Central Valley high speed rail project based on press reports and statements from officials. That project is consuming about $18,000 per foot. Applying the same formula to the Victorville project, the total turnkey price will be $18.2 billion. That's over four times more than the budgeted amount, but there's no indication the budget amount is any more accurate than the $17 billion that turned into $70 billion on the Central Valley HSR segment. The Virgin Trains USA project will implode at some point. There won't be enough riders to make it profitable. It'll never even be close.