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(The New York Times)   75 percent of travelers going between Washington and New York would rather spend 4 hours on the rails than 12 on the tarmac   (nytimes.com) divider line 61
    More: Obvious, New York, Amtrak, Acela, Northeast Corridor, management consultants, flight delay, hold down  
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1611 clicks; posted to Business » on 15 Aug 2012 at 4:57 PM (2 years ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2012-08-15 03:09:50 PM
You know, a lot more people would take the train, I think, if there was express service between cities.

Right now, door to door, it takes me 5 hours (drive to airport, security, flight, pick up checked luggage, travel to where I'm staying) to fly to Savannah from my home near Washington, DC, 8.5 hours to drive there, and nearly 14 hours to travel by rail. Considering that time spent at my destination is what is important, there's no way I would consider cutting close to 11 hours off my time at my destination and spending nearly as much as I would to fly there just to take the train.

Now, if a high speed express train could get me to Atlanta in 2 hours and Savannah in 2 more, THEN I would seriously consider it.
 
2012-08-15 03:15:23 PM
When I lived in DC, I always took the train to get to NYC. Never flew.

For me, it was a no-brainer: you arrive in the middle of Manhattan, right on 31st Street. No need to waste time and money taking a cab into the City.
 
2012-08-15 03:39:14 PM
The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.
 
2012-08-15 03:47:16 PM
At US Air, the lowest one-way coach rate between Washington and New York was $236 as of Wednesday, with the lowest first-class fare of $335, before taxes and fees.

Uh, you're checking the wrong sites if $236 is the lowest one-way fare you can find for DC-NY. A quick search by me finds a $95 rate on either Delta, American, or Jetblue. Choose Jetblue.
 
2012-08-15 03:49:10 PM
Oh, that's on a Friday btw. If you go on a Thursday it's $55.
 
2012-08-15 03:57:19 PM

Walker: Uh, you're checking the wrong sites if $236 is the lowest one-way fare you can find for DC-NY.


If you're checking out USAir, you're definitely at the wrong site.
 
2012-08-15 04:01:12 PM
Good thing Mittens wants to defund Amtrak.
 
2012-08-15 04:10:52 PM
I've spent the last month travelling around Europe by train and I think it's brilliant. No check-in (except for Eurostar) just walk on. You got power if you need it. I only got WiFi in Italy but I'm sure it will be everywhere soon. Food and drinks readily available. Plus going 300 km/h on the ground is more fun than doing 900 km/h 10 km above it.

At least the US has high speed trains. Australia thinks about it once a decade and then does nothing.
 
2012-08-15 04:32:16 PM

SurfaceTension: You know, a lot more people would take the train, I think, if there was express service between cities.

Right now, door to door, it takes me 5 hours (drive to airport, security, flight, pick up checked luggage, travel to where I'm staying) to fly to Savannah from my home near Washington, DC, 8.5 hours to drive there, and nearly 14 hours to travel by rail. Considering that time spent at my destination is what is important, there's no way I would consider cutting close to 11 hours off my time at my destination and spending nearly as much as I would to fly there just to take the train.

Now, if a high speed express train could get me to Atlanta in 2 hours and Savannah in 2 more, THEN I would seriously consider it.


Then add the checked baggage fee & parking fee to the time you're spending standing in a queue, I'd take rail in a second, if it weren't 1) sometimes nearly as expensive as flying and 2) so damned slow.

Newark to Baltimore is a little over 2 hours flight time and costs around $175. Add to that $25 for a bag, $72 for parking, plus the additional waiting-around time, and I've easily justified just friggin' driving there in 4 hours and whatever gas/tolls that would cost.

Plus, I wouldn't have to rent a car.
 
2012-08-15 04:36:29 PM
I drive... train from DC to NY with wife is $600+ - Flying has its pitfalls mentioned in the link. We drive. With tolls, gas and parking - we're less than train and more reliable than flight.

I would do the train if it wasn't so damn expensive. There's also a bus option, but that's for the young and hardcore.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-08-15 04:42:31 PM
$151 billion dollars, 10 million trips per year, 30 year financing = $50 per trip surcharge to build the new system.
 
2012-08-15 05:03:17 PM

ZAZ: $151 billion dollars, 10 million trips per year, 30 year financing = $50 per trip surcharge to build the new system.


I dont know where you got those numbers but it'd take you 302 years to pay off the $151b even if you finance it at zero percent.
 
2012-08-15 05:06:25 PM

Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.


Population (MSA) of London - 13M, Paris -12.1
Chicago 12M, St. Louis 4M

I am going to guess there is significantly more traffic between London and Paris than between St. Louis and Chicago.
 
2012-08-15 05:08:11 PM

ZAZ: $151 billion dollars, 10 million trips per year, 30 year financing = $50 per trip surcharge to build the new system.


You fail at math. 30*10M*50=1.5B, not 151B
 
2012-08-15 05:09:49 PM

You're the jerk... jerk: Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.

Population (MSA) of London - 13M, Paris -12.1
Chicago 12M, St. Louis 4M

I am going to guess there is significantly more traffic between London and Paris than between St. Louis and Chicago.


And driving is not an option.
 
2012-08-15 05:10:26 PM
One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

Why?
 
2012-08-15 05:12:12 PM
It's not unreasonable for a utility to run at a loss. That's one of the areas where government subsidies are perfectly appropriate.

It's also perfectly reasonable for government to invest in new infrastructure. We're in dire need of it in the States.

Trains are a very good way of getting about in the northeast. Even crappy old Metro North can get me into Midtown in just over an hour (and their new rolling stock no longer has that 'baked urine' smell).
 
2012-08-15 05:16:38 PM

Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel electric powered machine stuck on hurtling along a rail going over twice highway speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

(once it actually gets to the end of the runway, after an hours-long ground hold caused by weather and/or congestion)

FTFY
 
2012-08-15 05:18:12 PM

You're the jerk... jerk: Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.

Population (MSA) of London - 13M, Paris -12.1
Chicago 12M, St. Louis 4M

I am going to guess there is significantly more traffic between London and Paris than between St. Louis and Chicago.


Yeah, a lot more traffic. But half the air traffic out of STL is going to Chicago anyway, so if you can move even 25% of those folks onto a train, it can help ease the airspace clog around Chicago.

The overall point is that STL-CHI is still a well traveled route, which makes it a good candidate for high speed rail.
 
2012-08-15 05:20:24 PM

Tillmaster: It's not unreasonable for a utility to run at a loss. That's one of the areas where government subsidies are perfectly appropriate.

It's also perfectly reasonable for government to invest in new infrastructure. We're in dire need of it in the States.

Trains are a very good way of getting about in the northeast. Even crappy old Metro North can get me into Midtown in just over an hour (and their new rolling stock no longer has that 'baked urine' smell).


Which utilities run at a loss? When utilities are losing money, regulators let them raise rates.

That doesnt work with Amtrak because individuals have choices and will not pay higher rates. So unless you think the indirect benefit of getting people off roads and into trains is worth the govt subsidizing an unprofitable industry, it doesn't make sense.

And while getting people off roads is a worthwhile goal, it is far preferable to do that via gas tax hikes vs subsidies for trains.
 
2012-08-15 05:20:52 PM

Debeo Summa Credo: You're the jerk... jerk: Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.

Population (MSA) of London - 13M, Paris -12.1
Chicago 12M, St. Louis 4M

I am going to guess there is significantly more traffic between London and Paris than between St. Louis and Chicago.

And driving is not an option.


Actually it is as there are ferries between Dover and Calais.


Drive on, drive off.
 
2012-08-15 05:45:18 PM

Debeo Summa Credo: Tillmaster: It's not unreasonable for a utility to run at a loss. That's one of the areas where government subsidies are perfectly appropriate.

It's also perfectly reasonable for government to invest in new infrastructure. We're in dire need of it in the States.

Trains are a very good way of getting about in the northeast. Even crappy old Metro North can get me into Midtown in just over an hour (and their new rolling stock no longer has that 'baked urine' smell).

Which utilities run at a loss? When utilities are losing money, regulators let them raise rates.

That doesnt work with Amtrak because individuals have choices and will not pay higher rates. So unless you think the indirect benefit of getting people off roads and into trains is worth the govt subsidizing an unprofitable industry, it doesn't make sense.

And while getting people off roads is a worthwhile goal, it is far preferable to do that via gas tax hikes vs subsidies for trains.


It's got more to do with the tangible benefits to communities along the railway. The commuter communities in Fairfield County CT wouldn't exist without a good rail service. It makes perfect sense for CT state taxes to help subsidize operations. The City benefits directly, since a huge workforce becomes available without having to swamp the city with all those extra cars, or pay workers over the odds because the the railroad had to make a profit.

You have to see the whole picture.
 
2012-08-15 05:45:23 PM

Tahs4Evar: I've spent the last month travelling around Europe by train and I think it's brilliant. No check-in (except for Eurostar) just walk on. You got power if you need it. I only got WiFi in Italy but I'm sure it will be everywhere soon. Food and drinks readily available. Plus going 300 km/h on the ground is more fun than doing 900 km/h 10 km above it.

At least the US has high speed trains. Australia thinks about it once a decade and then does nothing.


To be fair, Australia has the same problem as the US, only worse. Rail travel in the US is essentially unused except for the Boston-NYC-Baltimore-DC axis, with a little spillover down to Atlanta. The rest of the country is too spread out. Australia's population density and distance between population centers is even worse than that of the US.
 
2012-08-15 05:48:59 PM

Lord Dimwit: Tahs4Evar: I've spent the last month travelling around Europe by train and I think it's brilliant. No check-in (except for Eurostar) just walk on. You got power if you need it. I only got WiFi in Italy but I'm sure it will be everywhere soon. Food and drinks readily available. Plus going 300 km/h on the ground is more fun than doing 900 km/h 10 km above it.

At least the US has high speed trains. Australia thinks about it once a decade and then does nothing.

To be fair, Australia has the same problem as the US, only worse. Rail travel in the US is essentially unused except for the Boston-NYC-Baltimore-DC axis, with a little spillover down to Atlanta. The rest of the country is too spread out. Australia's population density and distance between population centers is even worse than that of the US.


Wow, I wasn't kidding. Quick looking at the stats:

Population per square kilometer:

European Union: 116
United States: 34
Australia: 3

That is why rail travel works in Europe and doesn't in the US or Australia.
 
2012-08-15 06:07:41 PM

eraser8: When I lived in DC, I always took the train to get to NYC. Never flew.

For me, it was a no-brainer: you arrive in the middle of Manhattan, right on 31st Street. No need to waste time and money taking a cab into the City.


Upside? Being dropped off in and out of the city was the biggest plus. Also a certain time of knowing when I was going to leave/arrive (very little likelihood of "15 minute delays" weather and mechanical delays that end up being 3 hours before it's all said and done). Much more room to stretch out and a much less claustrophobic experience (flying when you're 6'4" sucks dong). Much less aggravation at my fellow travelers from having to wait patiently as they cram a Saks Fifth Avenue shopping spree into the overhead. etc. After the ticket is verified and punched I'm left the fark alone for the rest of the trip.

The downside? I have to read Tolstoy for a little longer. Wow, what suffering.
 
2012-08-15 06:15:19 PM
Easy choice if you still like doing coke.
 
ZAZ [TotalFark]
2012-08-15 06:25:35 PM
The input numbers (riders and money) I got from the article. The output numbers (dollars per trip to upgrade) I calculated with my mental arithmetic skillz.
 
2012-08-15 06:33:16 PM
FWIW, as to why there are so many insignificant stops up and down major Amtrak lines .... many congressmen and representatives fight for their local stops because it brings federal funding to their district.
 
2012-08-15 06:43:01 PM
Lord Dimwit:
Wow, I wasn't kidding. Quick looking at the stats:

Population per square kilometer:

European Union: 116
United States: 34
Australia: 3

That is why rail travel works in Europe and doesn't in the US or Australia.


Population density doesn't mean much if you don't look at distribution. Australia's population is clustered in a few coastal areas and it might make sense to connect them by high speed rail. The U.S. has a more broadly distributed population, but also has a lot more people, and it would make sense to connect more urban and suburban centers by high speed rail.  It's not that rail travel doesn't work in AUS or the US, it's that it hasn't been a priority for the last 60 years for a whole cluster of reasons.
 
2012-08-15 07:22:13 PM

mcreadyblue: Debeo Summa Credo: You're the jerk... jerk: Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.

Population (MSA) of London - 13M, Paris -12.1
Chicago 12M, St. Louis 4M

I am going to guess there is significantly more traffic between London and Paris than between St. Louis and Chicago.

And driving is not an option.

Actually it is as there are ferries between Dover and Calais.


Drive on, drive off.


The railroads ought to get creative. If a trip had the right amenities, it would draw in plenty of fares. I don't mean gold plated door handles, but better food, an entertainment car with games/TV, and plenty of space to drink and socialize. Even 'adults only' rides. I'd love to get my hands on this opportunity.

How about a mostly glass car to watch the world fly by, with 21st century saftey. And a number of restaurants could rent or buy
space on the train. I've got a million of them.
 
2012-08-15 07:22:55 PM
Population density works the other way too. The UK wants to build a new rail line but thousands of homes will have to be demolished to do so. Managing to build the London to Dover Eurostar line was a miracle that took ages and cost a fortune.

Australia, and the US, can draw a line on a map and say "Build there" and maybe have to knock down one or two houses for vast stretches of the route. In the UK you can't go a hundred yards without coming to another 300 year old cottage or farmhouse. 

The US has to build more miles of track, but the cost per mile of that track would be far lower.
 
2012-08-15 07:25:35 PM

Raoul Eaton: Lord Dimwit:
Wow, I wasn't kidding. Quick looking at the stats:

Population per square kilometer:

European Union: 116
United States: 34
Australia: 3

That is why rail travel works in Europe and doesn't in the US or Australia.

Population density doesn't mean much if you don't look at distribution. Australia's population is clustered in a few coastal areas and it might make sense to connect them by high speed rail. The U.S. has a more broadly distributed population, but also has a lot more people, and it would make sense to connect more urban and suburban centers by high speed rail.  It's not that rail travel doesn't work in AUS or the US, it's that it hasn't been a priority for the last 60 years for a whole cluster of reasons.


Very regional rail for Australia might make sense, but its major cities are very spread out. Canberra to Sydney makes sense, but Sydney to Brisbane makes much less - and there's no sense in trying to connect any of the cities outside of the eastern part of the country.

Same thing in the United States - regional only, though. Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, El Paso and (maybe) Beaumont in Texas should be connected via high speed rail, but that won't ever happen. LA, SFO, San Diego should be connected too.

In other words, there are pockets will it would work, but it has to both faster than driving and cheaper than flying for it to work, and that isn't the case. I remember I wanted to take the train down to San Antonio from Austin for a little day trip. No good - the only train that goes from Austin to San Antonio doesn't get there until 10 PM and the only train leaving San Antonio leaves at 7 AM, which is an inconvenient time. Plus it takes longer than driving and costs about as much as gas would, but without the benefit of having a car there.
 
2012-08-15 07:32:02 PM
Population per square kilometer:

European Union: 116
United States: 34
Australia: 3

That is why rail travel works in Europe and doesn't in the US or Australia.


The Northeastern states have 118 people per square kilometer. California has 94 people per square kilometer.
 
2012-08-15 07:41:40 PM
There's too much empty space in the middle of America from a complete grid like Europe but the goal would be to reduce the need for regional jet flights. Nobody in Europe goes from Madrid to Copenhagen by train. They still do that by air, but they do the train to go from Madrid to Barcelona and Copenhagen to Stockholm. Nobody is going to do Dallas to Seattle by train but Dallas to Houston and Seattle to Portland would be lengths many people would rather do by train than plane.
 
2012-08-15 08:07:17 PM

Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

Why?


Oh, keeping your luggage, keeping your shoes on, no groping by wannabe cops, leaving and arriving in a location central to the city, rather than out in a swamp, not having your lunch confiscated or having to unwrap gifts....
 
2012-08-15 09:01:50 PM

Lord Dimwit: Lord Dimwit: Tahs4Evar: I've spent the last month travelling around Europe by train and I think it's brilliant. No check-in (except for Eurostar) just walk on. You got power if you need it. I only got WiFi in Italy but I'm sure it will be everywhere soon. Food and drinks readily available. Plus going 300 km/h on the ground is more fun than doing 900 km/h 10 km above it.

At least the US has high speed trains. Australia thinks about it once a decade and then does nothing.

To be fair, Australia has the same problem as the US, only worse. Rail travel in the US is essentially unused except for the Boston-NYC-Baltimore-DC axis, with a little spillover down to Atlanta. The rest of the country is too spread out. Australia's population density and distance between population centers is even worse than that of the US.

Wow, I wasn't kidding. Quick looking at the stats:

Population per square kilometer:

European Union: 116
United States: 34
Australia: 3

That is why rail travel works in Europe and doesn't in the US or Australia.


Good handle. Now try basing it on psk in, say, the Northeast and California.
 
2012-08-15 09:09:59 PM

Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.


That is what you get when cargo trains etc have the right of way over all passenger trains. You get much longer travel times then needed.
 
2012-08-15 09:59:19 PM
It's the better way to go for trips like that. I'll be taking the train from NY to Baltimore in a few weeks, didn't even consider flying.
 
2012-08-15 10:35:02 PM

limeyfellow: That is what you get when cargo trains etc have the right of way over all passenger trains. You get much longer travel times then needed.



InmanRoshi: FWIW, as to why there are so many insignificant stops up and down major Amtrak lines .... many congressmen and representatives fight for their local stops because it brings federal funding to their district.



These are the two reasons I hate taking the train.
 
2012-08-15 10:41:51 PM

Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

Why?


What time was that? 3AM? Amtrak tickets are usually around $160 one way.
 
2012-08-15 10:48:46 PM

beta_plus: Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

Why?

What time was that? 3AM? Amtrak tickets are usually around $160 one way.


I just got my aforementioned NY-Baltimore ticket for $49, but it's the 10pm train. That's actually the time that works best for me though. Work is crazy.
 
2012-08-15 11:36:51 PM

Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

Why?


Taxi from JFK to Midtown = $45 plus tip.

Right there, that puts you ahead of the game on the rails.
 
2012-08-15 11:39:16 PM

beta_plus: Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.

Why?

What time was that? 3AM? Amtrak tickets are usually around $160 one way.


Helps if you buy it in advance (same as with flying). DC->NY tickets for tomorrow run $80 (night owl) to $136 (daytime), but you can get a noontime trip 45 days from now for $80 ($49 if you're willing to leave at 6:30 AM; the Acela costs $100 extra to save you 40 minutes).
 
2012-08-15 11:47:15 PM

Grand_Moff_Joseph: The distance from STL-CHI is nearly the same as the distance from London-Paris.

The Eurostar can cover the same distance in 2 hours, whereas Amtrak takes at least 5, which is about the same time it would take me to drive it (at posted speeds).

I'd gladly take the train if was even 75% as fast as Eurostar. But, that's be socialist I suppose.


But that goes under a major ocean shipping channel. How the hell do you expect them to cross nothing but some of the flattest land in the country?!!
 
2012-08-16 01:48:15 AM

SurfaceTension: You know, a lot more people would take the train, I think, if there was express service between cities.


Pretty much. Back in the day, they used to run "clockers" every hour on the Boston-NYC-Philly-DC run. It was easier and quicker to get from Philly to DC or Manhattan in the 50s than it is today.
 
2012-08-16 02:14:31 AM

beta_plus: Bleyo: One way from DC to NYC on a Tuesday.

Amtrak: $80
Jet Blue: $94

This is why trains fail. For $14, you go from a diesel powered machine stuck on a rail going highways speeds to a vehicle that flies thousands of feet in the air at several hundred miles per hour.


Well, if you're lucky enough to be in a city (like NY) you can possibly walk to the Amtrak or take the subway, avoid the $8 TSA Fondling Service, and possibly walk to your destination when you get to DC or Beantown. And I honestly don't recall smelling diesel on the last couple amtrak runs I was on, but I am quite used to the stench of kerosene while sitting with my laptop off, my seat back upright and locked, the smelly guy next to me flopping over into my seat, and the stench of urine from the lavatory almost covering up the bitter, sulfurous reek of intestines adjusting to pressure differences.

Air travel is a no-brainer once distances are over 300 miles or so. But anything less than that, rail starts being a good alternative. If Amtrak expanded their "quiet car" fleet, you'd have to beat off the passengers with a stick - instead of the way they do it at the security checkpoint. (which I am reminded not to joke about. copyright infringement, maybe)



Why?

What time was that? 3AM? Amtrak tickets are usually around $160 one way.


I only travel for business, and even with some planning and flexibility, the LGA-DCA-BOS flights tend to be in the $300+ range. I think first class on Acela is not much over $200, even doing a last-minute purchase. 

(yeah, I do remember the old air shuttle service out of LGA, I learned to check my watch when the cab was about 5 min out on BQE, because one airline always left on the half-hour and the other always left on the hour, both were $99 walk-up price, and you got to use the DB Cooper entrance on their 727 as a bonus.)
 
2012-08-16 05:27:57 AM
Amtrak's zany pricing is a source of resentment for me. I zip around NY-Boston all the time. They have four tiers of pricing, each tier meant to gouge the customer more and more. There are always plenty of empty seats when I go (usually mid-morning/afternoon). If they didn't raise prices from $60 to $149 for the regional as departure time arrives, they'd get a lot more business. It's too bad because when they're on time it's an enjoyable ride. Except that almost every train I've been on blasts the AC. It's weird to see people bundling up in the middle of summer...
 
2012-08-16 05:28:35 AM
It's laptops that have made the difference. People now work on long journeys.

If you gave me the choice of London to Paris by Eurostar, or by air, I'd take the Eurostar, even if it was slightly longer. Because the journeys go like this:-

Air: Arrive, have to wait an hour for plane. Spend 20-30 minutes going through checkin and finding the terminal. Fly for around an hour. Get off, go through passports, collect bags, take train to central Paris.

Eurostar: Get on train from London. Show passport. Wait 30 minutes. Sit for 2 and a half hours. Get off with bags.

That means I get a solid 2 and a half hours with my laptop which I don't get on the plane. The plane is carved up into little chunks.
 
2012-08-16 07:25:27 AM
I'm guessing that people who prefer flying over taking the train are not people who enjoy trips. They merely want to get from Point A to Point B the cheapest or fastest way possible.

I prefer the going to more than the getting there. I like to talk with fellow travelers. I am happy to take an extra day to get there and be able to walk between cars and have legroom and extra space and multiple dining options (fine dining, snack car, BYOF) than give the TSA the satisfaction and sit silently for hours in a too-small space.

Just my opinion, but for sheer quality of journey train beats out flying. Of course if you are flying for business and have a tight time schedule when traveling, then you probably have to fly or drive. But I'm not sure I could accept a job that required frequent travel like that. It would make me hate traveling.
 
2012-08-16 07:45:23 AM

Tillmaster: Debeo Summa Credo: Tillmaster: It's not unreasonable for a utility to run at a loss. That's one of the areas where government subsidies are perfectly appropriate.

It's also perfectly reasonable for government to invest in new infrastructure. We're in dire need of it in the States.

Trains are a very good way of getting about in the northeast. Even crappy old Metro North can get me into Midtown in just over an hour (and their new rolling stock no longer has that 'baked urine' smell).

Which utilities run at a loss? When utilities are losing money, regulators let them raise rates.

That doesnt work with Amtrak because individuals have choices and will not pay higher rates. So unless you think the indirect benefit of getting people off roads and into trains is worth the govt subsidizing an unprofitable industry, it doesn't make sense.

And while getting people off roads is a worthwhile goal, it is far preferable to do that via gas tax hikes vs subsidies for trains.

It's got more to do with the tangible benefits to communities along the railway. The commuter communities in Fairfield County CT wouldn't exist without a good rail service. It makes perfect sense for CT state taxes to help subsidize operations. The City benefits directly, since a huge workforce becomes available without having to swamp the city with all those extra cars, or pay workers over the odds because the the railroad had to make a profit.

You have to see the whole picture.


Yeah, I understand, but I don't think it's the win win you are describing. Why should taxpayers in CT subsidize train service into NY? Certainly, those commuters benefit, as do their employers, as does new york. But CT itself ends up making a neighboring state more attractive to work in (although making CT more attractive to live in), and has to pay for the subsidy! I think it'd be better to just let those workers and their employers pay their own way.

If you deem moving people out of cars and into trains a benefit in and of itself for CT, I can see your point. But again that is done most effectively by raising gas taxes. For instance a hike in the gas tax to pay to make all intra-Connecticut rail travel free would possibly make sense.
 
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