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  •  This administration doesn't seem (1+ / 0-)
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    to place any sort of value on rail transportation.  I know they essentially de-funded Amtrak.  (Slightly off-topic.)  I've grown to hate flying over the past few years--and my career was in aviation--and I've been searching for an alternative method of travel.  The reason there are so many travel delays now is that airlines are flying more, smaller planes, but the airways are finite.  In the old days (ten years ago) they'd fly a bigger plane that held the same number of people, but instead of five flights a day for the same route to keep the customer happy, it only went once a day.  Is the customer really happy, delayed for two hours on the tarmac?  But I digress.  As a traveler, I would be thrilled to take the train to visit my 89-year-old grandmother 2500 miles away.  And for shorter trips, I would love it if, out here in the Northeast, they had something like what I remember of the BART train back in northern California when I was a kid.  Am I just being a fossil?  Is this kind of transportation dead?  Or are we just supposed to stay home?

    ...don't blame me, I voted for Ned!

    by theark on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 02:22:18 PM PDT

    [ Parent ]

    •  I don't really see long-distance rail's niche (0+ / 0-)

      As far as I can tell, long-distance rail mainly serves as a sort of "land cruise", which is beautiful but not a practical mode of transportation. Unsubsidized, a New York to Los Angeles train trip costs around $2000 per passenger to operate, and even subsidized it costs something like $500 for the ticket---far more than flying.

      Within cities I can see the usefulness of rail in some cases, primarily high-speed or semi-high-speed rail, like the Acela in the northeast and the newly-upgraded Caltrain in the Bay Area.  But beyond that I don't care much. I just want to get from place to place, and whether it's by bus or train doesn't make much difference, unless the train is faster (which it usually isn't). I find that most of the useful lines I ride are bus lines, and I'd rather have those expanded and made more frequent; converting existing bus lines to rail doesn't do much for my ability to get places.

      "See a world of tanks, ruled by a world of banks." —Sol Invictus

      by Delirium on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 02:42:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I see your point (0+ / 0-)

        and it's a good one.  The bus works because the road is there.  We're kind of running out of the wide open spaces to lay track.  If I want to head out west, for example, according to the schedule I have to go through New York, into DC, I think, up through Chicago, then to points west.  I don't relish the thought of flying.  I wish there were a better way to go.

        ...don't blame me, I voted for Ned!

        by theark on Thu Jun 28, 2007 at 04:53:14 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The niches are one hour to three hour trips ... (0+ / 0-)

        ... in competition with air, and longer trips ... up to six hours ... in areas underserved by air.

        If you were to do a time-lapse film of a transcontintental passenger train, you would see a steady turnover of passengers, as rather than taking a large number of people from, say, Chicago to LA, it takes large numbers of people on shorter trips that lay along its line of travel.

        The interstate passenger transport task, whether by car, air, motorcoach or rail, is an entirely different transport task than what a trolleybus does.

        And one thing a trolleybus does is reduce the per-mile cost of a given bus route. That means that the pure commercial calculation would dictate a higher frequency of services along that route ... and especially in an environment of rising crude oil prices over the next five years, trolley-buses will be very well placed to capture an increasing share of patronage, which will allow them to drive up their frequency still further. and Energize America

        by BruceMcF on Fri Jun 29, 2007 at 07:37:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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