Posted date July 10, 2016 – 3:08pm

High-speed rail system most desired transportation mode for Las Vegans

By ART MARROQUIN
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL

Road congestion is a given in a growing metropolis such as Las Vegas.

But let’s say you didn’t have to drive around town. What would be your preferred mode of transportation?

It turns out a high-speed rail system linking Las Vegas to Los Angeles was deemed the “most beneficial to improving daily life” among 500 local adults surveyed by the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.

XpressWest was supposed to start construction by late fall on the first leg of an $8 billion high-speed line connecting Las Vegas to Victorville, California, but that date was pushed to early 2017.

Ridership projections are due in August and an environmental review is expected to be released a month later for the second phase, which would extend the track 50 miles from Victorville to existing commuter rail service in Palmdale, California.

Eventually, the commuter rail would be upgraded to high-speed rail if California’s system is ever built. When completed, a round-trip ticket is expected to cost about $100.

“We’re already one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations,” said Jonas Peterson, president and CEO of Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance.

“If we somehow find a way to increase capacity between the 271 miles separating Southern Nevada and Los Angeles, our economy will be more productive and our region will be more connected,” Peterson said. “That’s our next step.”

A streetcar running through downtown Las Vegas ranked second on the survey, released last month by the alliance. A commuter rail whisking people between the suburbs and downtown placed third, followed by additional street lanes and more bicycle lanes.

A recent Regional Transportation Commission transit analysis listed light rail or an elevated expressway as potential transit modes to reduce traffic between McCarran International Airport and the Strip.

“Southern Nevada is the largest remaining market in the West without a light rail system, and that needs to change,” Peterson said while citing metro areas such as Phoenix, Salt Lake City and Denver. “They’ve created communities young people want to move to, and so can we.”

And, no surprise here: the alliance survey’s least favorite option was to implement toll lanes on major freeways such as Interstate 15 and U.S. Highway 95. So far, that’s not in the forecast.