High-speed railways are common in Europe and Asia, but they're more scarce than the metric system in the U.S. California, though, aims to change that with a bullet train linking LA and San Francisco in less than three hours.
State lawmakers on Friday approved construction of the first phase of the line, which has been the subject of years of debate. California's finances are in poor shape, and the LA-San Francisco railway is expected to cost some $68 billion.
According to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, a trip from San Francisco to LA would take two hours and 38 minutes, and save 324 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions.
The authority says the high-speed train system will use "extensively-proven high-speed train technology from Europe or Asia," citing the success of Japan's Shinkansen bullet trains as well as trains in France and Italy.
"By 2020, most of Europe will be interconnected by a compatible, electrified, standard-gauge, steel-wheel-on-steel-rail high-speed train network," the authority's Web site says.
Construction of a stretch of track in the Central Valley could begin late this year or early next year. Service could start in 2018, with ridership in 2022 projected at 2 million to 5 million.
What do you think? When it comes to traveling in California, will you be riding the bullet train, or will you stick to cars and planes?