Archive for the ‘Transportation’ Category

Here’s a really interesting article from the L.A. Times. A new study points to the fact that teenagers in America are much less interested in cars than they used to be.

The goal was to gauge the perceptions of Generation Y (those born in the 1980s and early 1990s) toward the automotive industry in general as well as toward specific vehicle brands. The analysis focused on “teens” (ages 12 to 18) and “early careerists” (22 to 29).

According to J.D. Power, “online discussions by teens indicate shifts in perceptions regarding the necessity of and desire to have cars.”

American teenagers without a set of wheels? James Dean, who drove a ’49 Mercury to fame in the 1955 movie “Rebel Without a Cause,” must be spinning in his grave.

Part of the reason could be economic, the study said. During the worst recession since the 1930s, the cost of owning a car probably makes less sense than it did when gas was 30 cents a gallon and every red-blooded American teenager yearned for a Chevy Camaro or a Pontiac GTO.

Later the article points out that China is wild about cars and could save the auto industry. I have a friend at work who is Chinese and he told me as much. He’s lived in the U.S. since he was 16 and recently went home to visit. He said everyone from his family wanted a car and talked a lot about cars. He described feeling the need to try and convince them that cars weren’t really that big of a deal once you had them. He wished he could get them to just trust that eventually the country would get tired of the automobile.

It’s funny, isn’t it? We’re riding our bikes more here, and China is driving cars more.

Read Full Post »

I tend to pay attention to the news stories about pedestrians and cyclists getting killed by cars. I do this because I am a bicycle commuter and a frequent walker. Quite frankly, cars scare the shit out of me.

While cycling home yesterday and encountering yet another close call with a car situation, I thought of a news story of a young girl who was killed in a crosswalk in Shoreline several years ago. And then I thought to myself, oh my God, my grandmother died in a crosswalk. My grandmother was killed by a car while crossing the street in a crosswalk. The only grandmother I ever had.

I’m not writing this to elicit sympathy from my readers. This happened in the early 90’s and I’m over it. In fact, what was disturbing to me about my memory yesterday was the fact that I don’t believe I was ever traumatized by this fact of my life. The event happened. My grief passed, so much so that when I think of pedestrian safety I think of news stories before I think of my own family’s experience. It’s very odd to feel this way. Reflecting on it makes me think I am a very cold person.

There was something of a trial. The driver was old and the sun was in his eyes. Of course, I always think that if you can’t see you shouldn’t be moving forward. I don’t think anything happened to him. The sad thing about pedestrian, cyclist, motorist and motorcycle deaths is that if the perpetrator wasn’t drunk then s/he usually just gets a slap on the wrist. Of course the fact that it’s not a DUI certainly doesn’t change the fact that your loved one died.

Read Full Post »

since I was a kid. In Saratoga Springs New York, a student had his bike confiscated for riding his bike to school.

While hundreds of area workers pedaled their way to work last Friday as participants in the national Bike to Work Day, one woman and her son were scolded for breaking the rules.

Janette Kaddo Marino and her son, Adam, 12, wanted to participate in the commuting event, so the two set off to Maple Avenue Middle School on bicycles May 15. The two pedaled the 7 miles from their east side home, riding along a path that extends north from North Broadway straight onto school property.

After they arrived, mother and son were approached first by school security and then school administrators, who informed Marino that students are not permitted to ride their bikes to school.

Can you imagine? Riding your bike to school is as American as apple pie. Later the principal of the schools says you can’t even walk to school.

He said the district’s policy does not allow students to ride or walk to schools outside of the city’s urban core.

The concern appears to be child abduction and traffic accidents.

There is no doubt in my mind that by riding my bike to work, I am taking a greater risk to my life than if I were to ride the bus to work. I’m not familiar with the stats, but perhaps I am even taking a greater risk than were I to drive to work. But life is about balance, and I know how hard it is for me to fit in exercise into my schedule. What’s great about biking is that it doesn’t take me any longer to ride my bike than it does to take the bus, so I am getting a lot of exercise without spending any additional time in the day to do it.

I look at the health risks of obesity and I weigh it against the risk of riding my bike to work. I think it’s a good risk. The more people there are like me, the safer our streets get. As communities get used to seeing bicycles on the road, they drive safer to accomodate them. It’s a no-brainer.

Read Full Post »

Like Carhenge for instance in Alliance Nebraska.

Read Full Post »

Here’s an article in the Seattle PI about a proposed tunnel as a replacement to an elevated highway that currently exists.

The caption on the picture.

The tunnel option to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct would have two lanes in each direction and would extend from approximately South Royal Brougham Way to Harrison Street. This scenario also includes a pair of northbound and southbound one-way streets using Alaskan Way and Western Avenue.

A portion from the article.

The new four-lane highway also would be double-decked inside the tunnel, which would be bored under First Avenue and extend from the sports stadiums to Harrison Street, north of the Battery Street Tunnel.

And the picture:

Let me begin.

1. The picture obviously does not display a tunnel.

2. It isn’t double-decked.

3. There are 3 lanes of traffic on each side. Not 4 lanes. Even if we assume that they meant 2 lanes in each direction, which is what I believe is in the proposal, there are clearly 3 lanes on each side.

4. Both directions of traffic are on the same plane.

Read Full Post »

My new commute

Two things have changed in my life: the location where I live and the location where I work. Happily, these two are quite compatible although bus service is sadly lacking. My bus should take me all of twenty minutes to get me to and from work. But here’s how it really went.

Day 1, Route 355: 30 minutes late consequently unbelievably packed bus with another 355 just behind it. Only just enough behind it that all of us squeezed onto the first one.

Day 2, Route 48: 15 minutes late unbelievably packed.

Day 3, Route 48: I saw the 4:54 bus rolling away at 4:53. I could not cross the street in time.  The bus was empty. The next bus at 5:14 was 15 minutes late, and as the minutes ticked by I knew that bus was going to be busier and busier. It was and the one just behind it was equally packed.

Day 6 – 10: I ride my bicycle. All is bliss.

My commute is about 25-30 minutes. I don’t have to wait or rush. I can leave at will. This must be how car commuters feel. Even in the rain, I prefer to ride my bike. Sure, there are death-defying moments everyday, but I do receive a health benefit at the same time.

Read Full Post »

Pimped up Yugos

This BBC story must be seen to be believed, so do click.

A search on Flickr also revealed the following:

Via TheDamnMushroom

Via Sherlock77

Via BizzareRecords

Read Full Post »

These images and more on the BBC.

It’s kind of like the computer version of the blue screen of death.

Read Full Post »

A conductor’s job is never done in China.

Read Full Post »

Via DailyKos.

Read Full Post »

I first blogged about Leavenworth Washington to describe why there exist in America things like fake German villages.

A sawmill and a healthy logging industry eventually fell apart, however, when the Great Northern Railway Company pulled out of Leavenworth. The re-routing of the railroad and the subsequent closure of the sawmill sadly converted the town from a bustling, thriving hub of commerce into a hollow, empty community. For more than thirty years, Leavenworth lived on the brink of extinction.

But in the early 1960’s, everything changed. In a last-chance effort to turn their precarious situation around, the leaders of the community decided to change Leavenworth’s appearance, hoping to bring tourism into the area. Using the beautiful backdrop of the surrounding Alpine hills to their advantage, the town agreed to remodel their hamlet in the form of a Bavarian village.

Ironically Leavenworth, the Bavarian holiday town and not the saw mill town, is so popular that the train will be returning to Leavenworth once a station has been built. Leavenworth lobbied and received a federal grant for the station. The station will be part of the same line that I took to Glacier Montana, the Empire Builder line, which travels from Seattle to Chicago.

Life can be quite funny sometimes.

Read Full Post »

Despite a great deal of apprehension, riding Amtrak to Glacier National Park has so far been a success. You can read about all of the planning of our Amtrak trip and pricing information from my previous post here.

Knowing that Amtrak is notoriously late, I didn’t quite know what to expect when we arrived at the station a half hour before it was scheduled to depart. I was prepared to wait a long time, but fortunately I didn’t have to as wee left bang on time. With the exception of one person, the Amtrak staff were wonderful people.

We first met our attendant, Ryan, who showed us to our roomette. I’ve got to tell you that the roomette is small though very roomy compared to a plane seat. At the edge of the seat is the sliding door, so it does get a little small in there. A friend reminded me before I left to take advantage of the lounge car and dining car in order to get some space.

Ryan brought us champagne for the journey. Very nice. We then explored the lounge car and the dining car which I’ve pictured here. You get an amazing view. Our dinner was great too and it was included in our fare because we got a roomette. We had a very large flat iron steak with two sides.  I’m going to the try the trout on the return journey.

There was an older couple from Eugene Oregon sharing our table who have gone to Glacier National Park by train three times. They like going to Glacier because they don’t have to drive. While I may not be willing to 14 hour train journeys all the time, the nice thing about this trip is that most of it is spent sleeping. You wake up in Montana. That’s a huge plus.

And how was sleeping? The vibration of the train as well as the champagne and the enormous dinner do a good job of getting you in the mood to sleep. The train creates some pretty good white noise also so you don’t have to listen to your neighbors conversations. I won’t pretend that it was the best sleep I’ve ever had, but I did sleep and I slept enough to be perfectly capable of an eight mile hike the next day.

All in all, I highly recommend it.

Read Full Post »

So today is the day where we take the overnight train from Seattle to East Glacier Montana home of Glacier National Park. Looking down on my Amtrak ticket I am pleasantly surprised to see that we need only check in 30 minutes before departure which is a nice change from flying.

I’m bringing my computer and the hotel does have internet access, so I’m hoping to post once a day or so with pictures. This picture is from http://www.itsnature.org.

Wish me luck!

Read Full Post »

Want to read a depressing blog about the future of suburbia? I have to say I think these guys are overstating it by quite a bit. But it’s an interesting read nonetheless.

In 40 years I could see living in the world’s largest city, a megalopolis, extending from New York City to Philadelphia and engulfing all of New Jersey. New Jersey could change the state motto to “The Overdevelopment State.” As we already have more cars per square mile than any other state, we could change the shape of the license plates from a rectangle to the outline of a car.

Government services such as police, fire, health, and public works will increase exponentially. To pay for the expanded services, taxes will also increase exponentially to the point where individual paychecks are made payable to the government and deposited directly in the general treasury. All individuals will have to use credit cards for all living expenses, going into massive debt and having to work until they are 90 years old, thus saving our Social Security system.

With a massive increase in the population density there will be a traffic light on every single corner. Smart individuals will have seen this coming and invested heavily in the firms that manufacture and install traffic lights, creating a new class of wealthy Americans (the “stop light rich”).

Developers won’t be impacted by the megalopolis as they rival Bill Gates in wealth and purchase the entire state of Wyoming. The first act of the new Wyoming legislature will be to abolish development so the developers can live in peace and quiet.

Photo via Don Nunn’s Flickr Photostream.

Read Full Post »

in order to save money on fuel you pee in a plastic jug:

Police say there’s been an alarming rise in urine-filled plastic containers found along a three-mile stretch of Interstate 84 in eastern Oregon.

A litter crew for the Oregon Department of Transportation picked up an estimated 200-300 urine filled plastic bottles, along the highway, about half of which were found in a short stretch dubbed “Three Mile Hill.”

Police say that drivers – particularly commercial trucks – are typically driving very slowly through the area.

Police think the price of fuel may be causing drivers to travel slower than normal to save fuel while at the same time passing rest areas or truck stops.

Under Oregon law, improperly disposing of human waste is a misdemeanor which can carry a fine of up to $250.

My sympathies go to the litter crew.

Read Full Post »

I thought I’d start a series on items and notions of that past that have received new vitality in the current day. While we appear to be modernizing as a species and value those things that are new, we inevitably find that the things of the past still have value and may in fact be better than the “latest and greatest.”

Bicycles as a form of transportation.

Invented in the Nineteenth Century, the bicycle is a fabulous tool for human transport taking the place of several household items. Here are some of the features of the bicycle you won’t find anywhere else. (This will be more fun if you read this as the Oxy Clean Guy.)

  1. Costs a fraction of the cost of other forms of transport. Less than 1/20th of the average price of a car. Sometimes even less!
  2. Maintenance costs are also a fraction of the cost of other transportation devices. Ever get a scratch on your car and pay hundreds of dollars? You won’t have that problem with a bicycle.
  3. You’ll never have to pay for parking again. Bicycles can be locked and stored at convenient racks located on the sidewalk of your destination. That means you’re closer to your transport and there’s less walking.
  4. Zero fuel costs. You’ll never have to start an unnecessary Middle Eastern war, drill off-shore, or take away habitat from the caribou again. Aren’t caribou cute?
  5. You can go to places that no car can go to. On sidewalks, through parks. Even box up it and take it on a plane with you to faraway places. Now that’s versatility.
  6. Gridlock traffic will be a thing of the past. On your bicycle you can whiz past cars that are waiting bumper to bumper. That’s why couriers use bicycles instead of cars. When it needs to be there fast it needs to be transported by bicycle.
  7. Lose weight and look great. Because the energy used to move the bicycle is located in your own body (known as fat) you can get rid of that stored body fuel and look fabulous. The more you ride, the more you lose. The more you lose, the faster the bicycle will travel.

Look out for the next “Rediscovering the old” on the Implied Observer.

Read Full Post »

A few months ago I gave up my subsidized bus pass. Since we are living fairly close to downtown I’ve been walking to work. I’ve gotten a lot of accolades from colleagues about my walk even from those who live in the same neighborhood as me. “That’s so great that you walk; you must stay fit from all the exercise.” For the record, it’s about a mile walk. That’s America for you.

This week I’m house sitting at a friends. With no bus pass, I thought I’d start bicycle commuting again and so far it’s been really great. I was a little worried about the cycling climate given the Critical Mass incidents (here or here) and then yesterday there was a tragic and freak accident in Seattle involving a pedicab. My condolences go out to the family.

But so far the commute has been relatively uneventful. For those who have commuted via bicycle, you know that most days are a constant gauntlet where you dodge cars, buses and trucks. This morning a car with a rather clueless driver drove too close to the center island causing his hub cap to fling up in the air. It wasn’t that close to the cyclist in front of me, but if it had been it would have been bad. The driver then pulled over quickly to the side of the road and opened his car door right into the bike lane. Luckily we were all expecting it.

Read Full Post »

One of the most frustrating things about plane travel is the liquid ban. Surely, someone can run a test to see whether my liquids are explosive. So when I went to Japan in March, we had to wait until we went through security to buy bottled water for the trip and of course that water was a ridiculous price in ridiculously small packages. You see the airlines just don’t provide enough free water on the flight to keep me hydrated and it’s certainly not enough for my husband who must have been a camel in his previous life.

To make matters worst, it seems that now U.S. Airways (and I’m assuming other airlines will follow) are going to start charging for water. Does this mean that we can’t even get tap water for free any more?

Charging for checked luggage and legroom isn’t enough for some carriers — starting today, coach passengers flying aboard US Airways Inc. must pay for a drink of water.

This morning, US Airways began charging fliers $2 for bottled water and sodas and $1 for teas and coffees. First class members, trans-Atlantic passengers and a select group of others are exempt from the extra fees.

I have to start remembering to always bring my plastic canteen with me. Of course this only works when you’re around a drinking fountain.

Read Full Post »

Bicycle organizations around the world schedule “Critical Mass” rides around major cities in order to take back the city from cars. During a Critical Mass ride, cyclists keep together to control the flow of traffic preventing cars from passing them. If you ever ridden a bicycle on city streets it can be a daily guantlet of danger. I’m not sure what to think about this case.

Questions I want to have answers for. How did this start? Were the cyclists provoked into surrounding the car? How fast did the driver go when he hit the bikes? Etc. And of course I hope everyone is okay.

“I was going to rev my engine, but it’s a stick and I was panicking,” the driver told the television station. “I had it in first and I went forward and I knocked the first few bikes down.”

The driver was identified only by his first name, Mark.

The incident began about 7:15 p.m. when cyclists participating in the pro-bicyclist Critical Mass protest surrounded the man’s car near the intersection of 14th Avenue East and East Aloha Street. Behind the wheel of a Subaru station wagon, the driver struck several bicyclists as he attempted to flee from protesters.

“I overreacted and freaked out and got upset, but I was surrounded by a mob of people and I felt really threatened and I apologize if I hurt anyone,” the driver told KOMO/4.

Cyclists gave chase, stopping the man’s car within a block, police spokesman Mark Jamieson said.

Protesters slashed the car’s tires, broke its windshield and punched the driver through an open window, police said. The driver was also struck in the head with an object after stepping out of the car.

Violence against drivers hurts all riders. I’m not as fast on my bike as most Critical Mass riders. I don’t want anyone retaliating against me.

Update: A great quote from the victim:

“I sympathize with [cyclists’] cause. I ride bikes too. I’m a liberal hippie democrat,” he says, adding “I’m gay, the person with me was a lesbian and we were a attacked by eco-terrorists. It’s the most Seattle thing that could have happened.

Read Full Post »

No I haven’t yet gone to Glacier National Park on Amtrak, but I did just notice some interesting details on Amtrak’s site.

First of all my accommodation is much better than I had originally thought. Apparently getting a roomette means I’m traveling first class. Having never traveled first class on a plane, this is very exciting.

On this page you can take a virtual tour of the roomette. Weary plane travelers, get a load of this:

Two-Piece Limit: Each passenger may bring aboard no more than two pieces of carry-on baggage. Not included in this limit are personal items such as briefcases, purses, laptops, and infant paraphernalia such as strollers, diaper bags and car seats.

50-Pound Limit: Each carry-on bag may weigh no more than 50 lbs.

Three-Piece Limit: Each ticketed passenger may check up to three pieces of luggage at no charge. Up to three additional pieces may be checked upon payment of $10.00 per piece.

50-Pound Limit: Each checked bag may weigh no more than 50 lbs. We will not accept heavier pieces.

Ski equipment, snowboards, golf clubs and bicycles may generally only be handled as checked baggage on Amtrak trains, and not as carry-ons. Items are permitted onboard when they can be safely stowed in the exterior lockers of Superliner equipment, or onboard equipment that is specifically designed to safely and securely accommodate the storage of the items.

Just at time where the airlines are starting to charge for each checked bag, Amtrak lets you have three checked bags and you can even bring your bicycle and put it on their bicycle rack. Perhaps I currently have a rosy outlook. Part III in late August will tell all.

Read Full Post »

In an unusual undercover operation, Delgado posed as a pedestrian on a busy street while fellow officers waited for drivers to barrel past her in violation of a law that requires them yield at crosswalks, even if there is no stop sign.

In Chicago, most drivers were puzzled to find themselves pulled over.

Roland Sapitula said that stopping was simply not an option. “It was too late for me to get on the brakes,” he said.

Louis Ramirez, 84, said he didn’t see Delgado — and he wouldn’t have stopped for her if he had. “There’s no sign out there,” he said. “I (do) not have to stop.”

Officers gave motorists a brief lecture about the law, then sent relieved drivers on their way. But police understand that the only thing more effective than a lecture from a police officer is a lecture and a ticket.

“If there’s really no threat of getting a ticket for it, you’re not going to really pay attention,” said officer Chuck Trendle, who was working with Delgado.

I think crosswalks are the one place where cars should absolutely stop. And it’s true, if it’s not enforced no one cares. If you’re jaywalking then I can understand why a car would not stop for you, but crosswalks should be sacred.

Read Full Post »

The price of gas is a topic that has consumed Americans for the last year. Now Republican senator John Warner has made a surprising suggestion: reduce the national speed limit to stretch gas mileage. It sounds perfectly reasonable. In fact, there is a precedent. In 1974 faced with an energy crisis Congress decided to create the limit. Furthermore, this national limit was only removed in 1995 when the price of gas was a mere $17 a barrel.

Warner cited studies that showed the 55 mph speed limit saved 167,000 barrels of oil a day, or 2 percent of the country’s highway fuel consumption, while avoiding up to 4,000 traffic deaths a year.

“Given the significant increase in the number of vehicles on America’s highway system from 1974 to 2008, one could assume that the amount of fuel that could be conserved today is far greater,” Warner wrote Bodman.

Warner asked the department to determine at what speeds vehicles would be most fuel efficient, how much fuel savings would be achieved, and whether it would be reasonable to assume there would be a reduction in prices at the pump if the speed limit were lowered.

I have to give Warner credit for a smart idea that may not be popular among his party. Given the national importance that gas prices seem to have, it will be interesting to see if Americans embrace Warner’s suggestion or not. If they don’t, then it’s hard to feel that they truly feel the grip of the price of gas. I love this part about the Energy Department’s response:

Energy Department spokeswoman Angela Hill said the department will review Warner’s letter but added, “If Congress is serious about addressing gasoline prices, they must take action on expanding domestic oil and natural gas production.”

Instead of implementing a speed limit that has proven in the past to reduce oil consumption, let’s instead make our oil friends rich. Isn’t that a better idea?

Many of our Republican friends are so often upset at increases in taxes cite the need for public officials to make sacrifices. Social services should be reduced instead of raising taxes, they say. The government should learn to make do with what they have like the rest of us, they say. Warner is using the same logic in return. Instead of opening up domestic oil production, why can we not make do with what we already have? Can we not sacrifice a few moments of the day by reducing our highway speed?

Photo courtesy of americansforsharedsacrifice.org

Read Full Post »

Things were so much better in the olden days. I say this having never lived in the olden days, but noticing the folly of planning a time-sensitive harvest festival in advance. Take this strawberry festival in Bellevue:

These are tough times for lovers of local strawberries.

The unseasonably cool temperatures have delayed the annual harvest and is even hurting Bellevue’s famed Strawberry Festival.

Most of the 6,000 pounds of strawberries this year are coming from – shudder – California.

“It’s unfortunate, but for the last few years, the weather has made finding local berries a real problem,” said festival spokesman Daniel Gale.

Gale says a few local berries are making an appearance, however.

Wouldn’t it be more fun and exciting to have the festival when the local strawberries are ripe? You could have web cams where the public waits in anticipation for the strawberries to reach their peak. Eating local is supposed to be encouraged after all.

A few years ago, I went to the Vashon Island Strawberry Festival. I was prepared to buy several pounds of strawberries. When I got there they didn’t sell any berries at all. They sold strawberry lemonade and strawberry shortcake, but you couldn’t actually buy a basket of strawberries. I asked someone only to find out that Vashon Island’s strawberry business was destroyed after the advent of child labor laws. They too every year ship in strawberries for a strawberry festival that has no grounding in reality.

Read Full Post »

A friend alerted me to this rail line which was just completed in 2006. The pictures are absolutely stunning and its construction is clearly a modern marvel.

There were and are many technical difficulties for such a railway. About half of the second section was built on barely permanent permafrost. In the summer, the uppermost layer thaws, and the ground becomes muddy. Chinese engineers dealt with this problem by building elevated tracks with foundations sunk deep into the ground, building hollow concrete pipes beneath the tracks to keep the rail bed frozen, and using metal sun shades.[11] Similar to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System portions of the track are also passively cooled with ammonia based heat exchangers.

The air in Tibet is much thinner, having 35% to 40% less oxygen than at sea level. Special passenger carriages are used, and several oxygen factories were built along the railway. At this altitude in these latitudes, water in toilets must be heated to prevent freezing. The Chinese government claimed that no construction worker died during the construction due to altitude sickness related diseases. [12] The railway passes the Kunlun Mountains, an earthquake zone. A magnitude 8.1 earthquake struck in 2001. Dozens of earthquake monitors have been installed along the railway.

Photos via chinapage.com.

Read Full Post »

Oh the joys of Amtrak in America. Amtrak is the company which manages U.S. rail travel. It’s completely underfunded and never gets any of the lobby money that air travel companies get. Trips on Amtrak are often costlier and are exponentially longer than car trips. Take for instance a drive from Seattle to Portland which can take about 3 hours. The same trip on an Amtrak train can take an average of 5 hours and sometimes more.

My husband and I have decided to take a car-less vacation for our summer. Our decision came about because it just doesn’t feel like a proper vacation if your destination is too close to you, and we chose Glacier National Park in Montana because it is directly on the Amtrak Empire Builder rail line (unlike Yellowstone.) I’ve never done extensive rail travel in America and this would give me the opportunity to see some lovely countryside as well as going to what is considered a beautiful National Park in a state I have never been to.

You would think that the expense and hassle of plane travel and the contemporary fear of a terrorism would drive people to re-embrace rail travel in this country. You would think wrong, but what has started a surge in rail travel is the price of gas. Here’s an article about how Amtrak is having difficulty accommodating all of their new customers.

Record prices for gasoline and jet fuel should be good news for Amtrak, as travelers look for alternatives to cut the cost of driving and flying.

And they are good news, up to a point.

Amtrak set records in May, both for the number of passengers it carried and for ticket revenues — all the more remarkable because May is not usually a strong travel month.

But the railroad and its suppliers have shrunk so much, largely because of financial constraints, that they would have difficulty growing quickly to meet the demand.

Many long-distance trains are already sold out for some days this summer.

The whole article is a very good read for anyone interested in learning the history of how Amtrak operates in this country.

The following details perhaps explain why rail travel has yet to really take off in America.

The journey from Seattle to East Glacier Park Montana is 16 hours long. A flight from Seattle to Kalispell Montana is roughly 2 hours long. Of course add extra time for getting to and from the airport, and certainly the nice thing about taking the train is that we will be dropped off right at the entrance to the park.

The price for two tickets to and from Seattle to East Glacier Park Montana is $302.40. Because the journey is 16 hours, we are also purchasing what is called a roomette. The roomette isn’t a room, but it is two seats next to a window that can be reclined into a sleeping position. Meals are also included. To get a roomette you can add to the return journey $484.00 making the total cost of the journey $786.00.

A return trip by Horizon air from Seattle to Kalispell is $534.00. Once again, you’ll need to add some expense to getting to and from Kalispell, but as of right now you’re comparing a $786 rail journey with a $534 plane journey. So as you can see it is more expensive to travel by train and more time consuming.

We decided to go ahead and go for it. Maybe it’ll be a blast and we’ll never know unless we give it a shot. Our trip is in August.

But going back to the joys of rail travel in America… Within 5 minutes of purchasing our Amtrak tickets online, we got a call from our credit card company’s fraud department. We just noticed you charged a large amount to Amtrak, they said. We wanted to make sure that someone hasn’t stolen your card and is using it, they said. You’ve got to be kidding me, I’m thinking. Is rail travel so rare in America that it is considered a fraud warning if you purchase a ticket? Perhaps our credit card company just couldn’t believe that anyone in their right mind would spend over $200 more to travel by rail for a journey that will take 8 times as long as it would than by plane.

Picture courtesy of BritainByRail.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »