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Examining Costs and Prices For California’s High-Speed Rail Project

The L.A. Times features a look at the contentious issue of a publicly funded high-speed rail system for travel within the state of California, which focuses especially on an obvious question: how much would it cost for passengers to ride? This isn’t a straightforward answer, though, partly because the system isn’t expected to be operational for another 13 years, and the estimates vary wildly for what would be a trip of more than 400 miles that touches on some of the U.S.’s most expensive real estate. From the Times’ article:

“The current $86 fare [for an L.A. to San Francisco ticket] is calculated in 2013 dollars based on a formula that prices tickets at 83% of average airline fares to help attract riders. The rail fare is an average that includes economy and premium seats, nonstop and multi-stop trains, as well as last-minute and advance purchase tickets. A premium, same-day nonstop bullet train trip would cost more than $86.

But compared with current average prices on several high-speed rail systems in Asia and Europe, $86 would be a bargain, equating to about 20 cents a mile or less, the Times review found. The analysis was based on a 438-mile route in the mid-range of what state officials expect the final alignment to measure.”

How much would you be willing to pay to take a fast train between L.A. and San Francisco?

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