Take my Train… Please

Been noticing the Acela advertisements across the banner of the NYT. It seemed like a good time to note the formerly diverted attention being paid to Amtrak. One hopes this is just the beginning of significant funding.

Good news for rail supporters. Last Friday, Vice President Joe Biden and 12 members of Congress gathered at Union Station in Washington, D.C. to discuss prioritizing transit. Standing outside in front of an Amtrak passenger car (whose aesthetically displeasing exterior reinforced the message for much needed funding), a purposeful Biden made the case for his favorite mode of transportation:

“Amtrak is a national treasure, For too long we haven’t made the investments we needed to make it as safe, as reliable, as secure as it can be. That ends now.”

I love how Republicans counter with charges of “wasteful spending!” Apparently, an interstate highway has a capacity of about 2,000 cars/hour and thereafter begins to resemble a parking lot.

The South seems so very far away from the rail-connected cities of the Northeast. Because it is. But you can still take the Silver Meteor between Boston and Miami, and the Silver Crescent from NY to New Orleans and many points in between. The line switches from diesel to electric at DC, then you can take commuter lines in various directions. In addition, the drive between Richmond and Atlanta is very long and hardly enjoyable. And in one direction, you arrive in a city where you really don’t need a car. Would be great if Atlanta (originally called Terminus, as it was the place where many train lines ended) became known as a place people left their cars.

We’ve planned an upcoming trip to NYC by train. When you price the four airline tickets, getting to the airport, parking, then the trip into the city from La Guardia vs. arriving directly into Penn station, the prices are comparable. Maybe the more people do this, the more trains they’ll add to the route, ultimately moving the price downward.

Plus, besides being able to leave my shoes on until I want to take them off, it should be fun. And it you get to see all those backyards otherwise hidden from view.