Brightline’s High-Speed Train Between LA and Las Vegas Could Be Back on Track

Molly Wright

Molly Wright is an intern for dot.LA. She previously edited the London School of Economics' student newspaper in the United Kingdom, interned for The Hollywood Reporter and was the blogging editor for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Brightline’s High-Speed Train Between LA and Las Vegas Could Be Back on Track
Image from Wikimedia Commons
Those four-hour drives between Los Angeles and Las Vegas could still become a thing of the past.

Private passenger rail company Brightline’s plans for an electric, high-speed train between the two cities could commence construction as soon as early 2023, Forbes reported today. U.S. regulators have begun reviewing a proposed 49-mile extension to the company’s planned Brightline West service that would connect Rancho Cucamonga to Victor Valley—linking the L.A. exurb to Brightline’s already approved, 216-mile railway connecting Victor Valley to Las Vegas.

While Rancho Cucamonga is some 40 miles east of Downtown L.A. in San Bernardino County, it is connected to Downtown’s Union Station by the Metrolink commuter rail line. Brightline’s trains between Rancho Cucamonga and Victor Valley would run at speeds of up to 180 miles per hour, while service between Victor Valley and Las Vegas would reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulatory review could be completed by this November, which would allow Miami-based Brightline to begin construction with the goal of starting passenger journeys in 2026. The company estimates the electrified railway between Rancho Cucamonga and Las Vegas will cost $8 billion and take three years to complete, according to Forbes.

Brightline’s proposed rail extension calls for train stations in Rancho Cucamonga—which would be adjacent to an existing Metrolink station there—and roughly 40 miles north in Hesperia. With the extension, a passenger would be able to board a Metrolink train at Union Station, connect through Rancho Cucamonga and be in Las Vegas in around three-and-a-half hours. That would be shorter than the typical four-hour car ride between L.A. and Vegas, while travelers wouldn’t have to worry about traffic, parking or gas. (It could also be a viable alternative for those who don’t want to bother with the hassle or stress of flying between the two cities.)

Brightline—which is controlled by Fortress Investment Group co-founder and Milwaukee Bucks owner Wes Edens—had initially planned to start construction on its West Coast service in late 2020, but delayed bond sales financing the project due to the coronavirus pandemic. The company is currently finishing an extension to its Florida rail between Miami to Orlando, with service expected to begin in early 2023.

mollywright@dot.la

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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