Texas Is Planning a Bullet Train Between Dallas and Houston

Something we’re not very good at here in the states: train service. Talk all you want about how Americans don’t want to give up their cars — that’s only part of it. Americans don’t want to trade their cars for train service because our train service sucks. New York City’s main transport authority effectively told its riders to start working from home as it prepares for a “summer of hell.” The bungling of New Jersey’s rail service — on NJ Transit, the nation’s third-busiest train system — into Manhattan will be one of the darkest stains of Chris Christie’s all-around-abysmal time as governor. (“A nightmare is not even the word for what’s going on in the tristate region right now,” said NJ Sen. Cory Booker, following a series of debacles.)

It takes eight-plus hours, on a combination of buses and trains, to travel the 400 miles between San Francisco and L.A. It takes the French high-speed TGV three hours to travel the nearly 500 miles between Paris and Marseille. You don’t even want to hear what the Japanese are doing in terms of luxury train service

A crumb, though, has fallen from the table of high-speed train service: It may soon be easier to travel between Dallas and Houston. As a petri dish for high-speed American train travel, this route makes sense for myriad reasons: It’s a highly trafficked business corridor (uh, you know, like the one between D.C. and New York) with an interminable drive that’s usually about four hours (vulnerable to weather/traffic/etc.) And if you’ve flown a plane recently, you know … you want to avoid flying on a plane when possible. 

The new Texas Central service would accommodate around 400 passengers per train, with a total travel time of about 90 minutes and departures every half-hour at peak times. What’s not to like? There’ll even be wifi, and investors, rather than taxpayers will be picking up the bill. Your choice: Five hours of driving (no wifi), a short flight complicated by all the rigamarole of getting there, or downtown-to-downtown service that beats total travel time for either method. Seems obvious to us.