Driving from San Francisco to Los Angeles is a dreary six hour experience. Most people travel inland to use Interstate 5. It is a straight and boring ride. In the summer the heat in the Central Valley and the drive to the top of the Tehachapi Mountains (called the Grape Vine) causes many cars to overheat. The drive from Los Angeles does not include the steep climb but isn’t any fun either.
Today the flight from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to San Francisco International Airport takes about 1½ hours. Airplane seats are narrow, poorly padded, and there is no leg room. The time for check in and clearance through security is about 1½ hours. American Airlines recommends check in “At least 90 minutes prior to departure when checking bags.” Travel to LAX is about 1½ hours. Thus a 1½ hour flight requires 4½ hours. The flight costs $124.00 round trip. Currently the travel time by rail is about 12 3/4 hours. Obviously train travel is not acceptable to most people as the train does not actually go into San Francisco. The last leg of the trip is a bus ride from Emeryville across San Francisco Bay.
The Bullet Train project plans that by 2029 the system will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of over 200 miles per hour. If the train cost is competitive with air travel we will see a new era for travel. We will be able to reach the center of each city without a special effort. The airlines will cut their fares to continue drawing patrons.
Despite the naysayers, I believe Governor Jerry Brown is correct in perusing this project.