As to airports being shit, what is easier... buying land in a strip from LA to SF, hiring thousands of engineers, laying hundreds of miles of precision track, buying lots of bullet trains, running power and maintenance access to the track because bullet trains are electric, dealing with the political NIMYism crap, and then maintaining this uneconomical monstrosity in perpetuity... or fixing the airport so the TSA doesn't waste our time?
Funny you should suggest this comparison. A report suggested that building the roads and airport expansions to replace the CHSR would end up costing between $158 and $186 billion. CHSR is currently budgeted at $68 billion.
If you choose the bullet train it means you're clueless or it means you're a corrupt politicians sucking off the federal tit.
Which would never happen when it comes to road or air infrastructure, right?
And there's no reason why the innards of the airport have to be so fucked up. So, unfuck them. Any twat could do it.
Let me fix that for you: Any twat with tens of billions of dollars could do that.
1. You get a Federal security pass... I forget what they're called, but they cost about 50 bucks and require you to go to a federal building and get interviewed by some government people. And when they conclude that you're not a terrorist, they give you an ID that lets you bypass the TSA pretty much entirely. So if you hate the TSA, you get one of those.
2. Just like rush hour, you understand when the airport is really busy and when it is not. Try to time your movements around that. It isn't hard and it isn't especially inconvenient. It requires that your plane take off an hour early sometimes if you need to get out of a really busy airport before it locks up.
3. If you travel a lot with any airline, they put you on their frequent flyer program. And pretty much all of them get you preferential treatment from that airline. That means not waiting in lines, access to special luxury waiting rooms with full service bars and no screaming children, and of course when it comes time to board you tend to get on the plane before or immediately after they get the handicapped people on the plane.
These solutions either have their own caveats or they wouldn't work for millions of casual travelers.
And here is the thing I really really like about airplanes - They go EVERYWHERE. Your train is point to point. Utterly inflexible. My plane... Goes ANYwhere.
Sure they do. But then you need adequate road infrastructure to connect to the airport. The airport itself takes a huge tract of land and then you either need to decide to have it located far away from a city (to save on land costs), which requires more road infrastructure and is inconvenient, or spend vast sums to buy up expensive land closer to the center of a city. The rail line distributes these land purchases more evenly across rural and urban areas.
For fast passenger transport over long distances, nothing competes with airplanes. Nothing comes even remotely close.
Yes, but over medium-range distances trains make a lot of sense. Nobody is talking about building an HSR line from LA to NY.
Many other commenters have given good reasons why they prefer travelling by train. For me, if given a choice between a plane or a train that takes one hour longer, I would choose the train every time. The seats are huge (compared to flying economy), the restrooms are larger, the aisles are wider, bringing luggage is both easier and cheaper, I don't get groped in security, there aren't any long lines. Trains, including the CHSR, get passengers right into city centers.