Don’t build high-speed rail from SF to LA - create an American Autobahn instead.
Here’s how it could work:
Build another three lanes of the I-5 from LA to Sacramento, completely separated from the current lanes but within the existing right-of-way. No need for tunnels or extensive bridges to support super-straight railroad tracks. No need for elevated grade crossings. Just another three lanes.
Limit the use of those three lanes to self-driving automobiles. Let them run at speeds up to 150 mph. The self-driving tech is available today - just look at the most recent Wired cover article here.
Each car could hold 4 or more passengers, and then deposit each person directly at their destinations in SF or LA. Pay a little more, get dropped off sooner. No need to transition to a taxicab at either destination - the car takes you there instead. The result? Seamless door-to-door speed and efficiency that blows away both rail and public air travel.
It’s like packet switching. Each car acts like an IP packet on the Internet, and is more than happy to stop along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. Think about it - maybe $5 billion to build the dedicated roadway (using existing right-of-way with no need for eminent domain), and self-financed rolling stock (ie privately owned and financed cars) that can meet strict regulatory controls governing safety at speeds well north of 100 mph.
And uniquely American since it leverages some of the amazing work coming out of Mountain View. Watch this video and you’ll believe the technology for the safe, self-driving, 150-mph car is already available.
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