Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ride the Rails


I’ve been asking myself this question for quite a few years now. And I was asking myself again this weekend as I waited for my mom’s airplane to get into town. She was supposed to be getting here to help me out because Jeremy was leaving for an extended weekend. Well, in case you didn’t hear—Texas had some bad weather last weekend. Weather that caused my mom’s connecting flight to be cancelled. . . THREE times in a row!

She finally made it to me 22 hours later after her fourth try at a connecting flight had its gate changed 5 times and was delayed on the tarmac for issues with the plane’s “navigational system.” Is that just code talk for the pilot is taking longer in the restroom than anticipated? But my mom hasn’t been the only one to have a flight cancelled on her lately. Maybe you heard something about a little volcano in Iceland?

Add to that type of instability the last decade of increasingly annoying airport security procedures (“Are you wearing anything under that sweater ma’am? If so you’ll need to remove it.” Also “Is this your Mom and Dad little boy?”) and it makes me wonder why anyone flies on airplanes these days at all.

Well, because it’s the only option right? Well, you could drive. Of course the price of gasoline is about as predictable as the eruption of Icelandic volcanoes. At $3.50 a gallon the car becomes an even less tempting option for longer distances.

And all these years Amtrak looks on.

Come ON! This is your big chance. Everyone is mad at the airlines and everyone hates visiting the gas station! Where’s your big campaign to get people back on the rails? Where are the ads showing everyone how much more legroom trains have—and you don’t have to be tied down to a seatbelt the whole trip. Why aren’t you joining in on the environmental conversation and telling people how much more energy efficient and “green” train travel is?

Also, you’ve got some work to do on your accessibility--2 Days of travel with 12 hour layovers all for the same high price as flying cross-country. Work on your timetables, work on your connections, and most importantly work on your public image. This is your golden opportunity.

Jeremy and I (along with anyone else who’s spent any reasonable about of time on Europe’s rails) are waiting.

My gal pals and me taking naps on a train in Austria.

1 comment:

Tyler M. said...

Mindy and I actually discussed this the other day. The problem with Amtrak is simple: They are completely subsided by the U.S government, therefore they have no initiative to be profitable or efficient.


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