A distance of 270 miles separates Los Angeles, California and Las Vegas, Nevada, with the total drive time being 4 to 5 hours, depending on traffic. If you don’t have a vehicle, wheelchair accessible transportation options between the two cities are limited to a Greyhound bus ride of 6 hours or a flight of just over an hour.
Two new proposals for a high-speed transportation link between the two cities offer promise for greater convenience and accessibility.
Brightline’s XpressWest High-Speed Rail
The first privately owed high-speed railway in the United States is operated by Brightline in the State of Florida. Brightline currently connects Miami to Ft. Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, with a route extension to Orlando currently under construction. Brightline Florida operates the most wheelchair-friendly trains in America, and the project has received high marks from the disability community. Now, the organization has set its sights on the West Coast.
Brightline’s modern, accessible and high-speed XpressWest trains would connect the L.A. suburb of Victor Valley with Las Vegas, before expanding to the City of Los Angeles itself at a later date. The first phase, spanning some 170 miles, would take less than 90 minutes on the train.
The XpressWest project recently received permission from California and Nevada to launch the final phase of its investment strategy, with the company set to begin selling bonds. Construction is set to begin later this year or next year, and the XpressWest train is expected to begin service in 2023,.
The Boring Company’s Las Vegas Loop
Elon Musk is hard at work gaining approval for a project called the Vegas Loop, which would see an underground tunnel dug from Los Angeles to Las Vegas. It would be similar to his Las Vegas Convention Center Loop, which is currently under construction.
According to The Boring Company’s website, the Loop is an “all-electric, zero-emissions, high-speed underground public transportation system in which passengers are transported via compatible Autonomous Electric Vehicles (AEVs) at up to 150 miles per hour.” The concept is shown in this video released by the company:
Underground tunnels used only by autonomous electric vehicles would allow high-speed travel, either in one’s own compatible vehicle or in a multi-passenger people mover produced by the company. Shown below are a number of conceptual designs of what the system could look like, released by Elon Musk and The Boring Company.
The Las Vegas Convention Center loop will presumably need to have some of the high-capacity passenger vehicles shown in the conceptual designs, and they will have to be wheelchair accessible with ramps and other accessibility features to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Expansion from the LVCC to the Las Vegas Strip, Las Vegas Airport and to Los Angeles are stated project goals, and would dramatically reduce transit times with vehicles reaching speeds of up to 150 mph in the underground tunnels.
The proposals made by Brightline for the XpressWest high-speed train and by The Boring Company for the Las Vegas Loop are both innovative and will increase the accessibility of transportation for all. I look forward to riding on an XprressWest train in 2023, and hope to one day enjoy reaching the top speed of 150 mph while riding in a zero-emissions automated vehicle underground. This is the stuff dreams are made of!