We're going to take a few days off here at the HSR blog; new posts will begin again on Monday, May 26. In the meantime millions of Californians will be confronting their first holiday weekend with $4 gas ($5 for diesel vehicles):
I took that photo yesterday afternoon here in Monterey, and most stations in town are showing similar prices. High gas prices are hurting tourism around the state, as Californians decide to save money and stay home this weekend:
Gas used to be a relatively minor cost of a road trip, at least on drives to the Sierra, Southern California or even Arizona or the Pacific Northwest. But now, it's real money - a big chunk of the budget of a vacation or weekend getaway.
Some travelers are calling off their plans altogether. [Rebecca] Renfro had planned for about a year to splurge and spend a few days in a lodge near Yosemite National Park in June to celebrate her 38th birthday - until gas surpassed $4 per gallon.
"After sitting down and calculating what it would cost in gas plus the lodge prices, I realized I couldn't afford it," she said. "It looked like it would cost at least $100 in gas.
"I'm really disappointed. I haven't been to Yosemite since I was a little girl."
As gas prices head higher over the next ten years, stories like this will become commonplace, and a state that depends heavily on tourism is going to have to find another way to get folks around the state - especially with the worsening airline crisis.
What better way than high speed rail? Instead of paying high fuel costs for the car or the plane trip, Californians will be able to afford to take HSR to or near to their destination, saving not only money, but time. This becomes especially valuable at the winter holidays - I once spent nine hours on I-5 driving back to Berkeley from Orange County after Thanksgiving - as families are able to quickly and cheaply take a train to visit grandma and grandpa down in SoCal, or take a summer weekend in Napa Valley (HSR won't get you all the way there, but it cuts down the overall cost and time spent on the journey).
Although it'll be several years until HSR exists to serve California's travel needs, you can take a (virtual) journey on the system right now:
Feel free to use this as an HSR Open Thread, and have a great holiday weekend.