Friday, October 14, 2005


While You're At It, Please Kill NASA!

Amtrak "Spin-Off" in the Works?

Hey look, I'm all for rail fact, I think it rocks. Somehow it is more relaxing than flying, at least on short to mid-term distances. Traveling by train in Europe is about as good as it gets, and Amtrak's Acela service on the East Coast (at least until the latest price increases) was a pretty close second. But the U.S.A. isn't Europe. We are larger and not nearly as densely populated, so for most parts of the country, rail service just won't cut it.

So, when Amtrak announced this week that it is splitting off the NE Corridor operations into a separate division, I was pleasantly surprised. We have no need (or much demand) for a nationwide rail service in the fact it is not cost effective to do so. Regional service, between major hubs in more densely populated areas (Boston-NYC-Washington) and perhaps the West Coast may be able to support rail, but I can't imagine why we still subsidize a national network.

For example, if you wanted to travel from DC to LA two weeks from today, here is what it could cost and how long it would take:

Airfare DCA to LAX: Cost $280, Travel Time: 5 hours 47 minutes (One-way).
Amtrak: DC to LA: Cost $376 (for a coach seat only), Travel Time: 96 Hours (One-way)

Now if you don't want to sit in a coach seat for four days, you can get a basic sleeper room, but then the cost jumps to $1695 for the round trip. And that's a heavily subsidized price!

The problem with rail is that it is one of the most expensive forms of transit to build. Land, heavy, reinforced bridges, rails, etc. make it more expensive to build and operate than a four lane highway. That in and of itself is not bad, it just means you need a realistic service area with a dense enough population to generate enough support to make it worthwhile. So, a more sane approach would be to kill Amtrak and to fund or encourage intermodal regional transit solutions..rail, roads, airports, jet packs etc.

Let's move into the 21st century in transit. Kill Amtrak so we can move on to new, innovative and effective transit solutions. Oh yes, and we can fund these solutions by killing NASA while we are at it.


Everything you have to say about rail travel in the good ole US of A is exactly right...except I love trains.

Any flanged wheel that rides on steel rail is fine with me.

But, I really like your idea of killing NASA...who gives a shit?...and then we could fund all the stuff YOU mentioned...AND keep Amtrak going for ME.

Ulcle Enore:

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Trains as well, and having grown up in the Midwest, where train travel is for corn, not people, I love having access to the NE Corridor trains and perfer them for travel to NYC.

This fall, I'm headed to Shanghai to ride their Hover Train!. I also support some susbidiztion for train travel. I mean we subsidize driving every year to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars (Road building, Traffic Cops, Etc.) and trains are no different.

But thanks for agree with me on the NASA stuff too. After spending $100 billion on a space station, they now tell us "Ooops" our bad, please give us another $100 billion to do something new. I say no way Jose', but I am profoundly disappointed that a Republican administration can't seem to throw enough money into this hole.

All the best,
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