Re: Question about Calif High Speed Rail
Date: 04-20-2017 - 18:45
As with HSR time, driving time depends on where your "stations" are for timetable purposes. If you count "Bay Area to LA" as south side of San Jose to Santa Clarita (say, Magic Mountain exit), then 5 hours is remotely possible, 6 probable at ordinary-traffic times. Not on a Friday (or nearly any other) afternoon/evening when everybody seems to want to make the trip, but at ordinary travel times when you can cruise at or above the speed limit (except when stuck behind a 56mph truck passing a string of 55mph trucks) it would work. CHP usually looks for stupid driving - 23013 or very high (well over 80) speeds - that endangers other drivers. Downtown SF to downtown LA, though, no way do you do that even in 6 hours.
HSR can similarly game the system by claiming 2:30 from San Jose to Burbank, rather than SF to LA downtowns. That should be comfortably doable for an express, even via Palmdale, perhaps even with one stop (Fresno or Bakersfield). Add at least an hour for using the Burbank-LA and Caltrain segments to reach the downtown stations. Yes, they probably could cut the total to 2:30ish with full-scale HSR all the way into both downtowns, but that simply can't happen for a long long time; the slower shared track in the terminal areas will be in use for the foreseeable future even if the rest of the line somehow gets built.
Ain't much you can do about the flying time, unless you can cut that transfer and security time to/from the airports, and get the airlines to do better at on-time travel. I pretty routinely would (on work trips with no luggage) leave home at about 0500 to get a 0700ish flight from Sac to Burbank, run over to the Metrolink station at the airport, and arrive at the work site in downtown LA around 0900 - probably nearly best-case for the current system. Trip home normally took at least an hour (often 3-4 hours) longer due to the PM flights NEVER being on time - theoretically, I would catch a 1500 Metrolink to the airport for a 1700 flight, arriving in Sac about 1800 and home at about 1900, but a 1800 departure was more typical, and one day I didn't get back to Sac until after midnight on the supposedly 1700 flight. Leaving a little earlier to catch the last San Joaquin bus, I would have gotten home at about the same time, even with having to cab from Amtrak to the airport to collect my car.