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(Salon)   Amtrak, the Prius of long-distance travel   (salon.com) divider line 220
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8099 clicks; posted to Main » on 19 Feb 2014 at 11:31 AM (43 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-19 11:54:42 AM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: nekom: Three Crooked Squirrels: I've got a nephew going to Kansas from New York on a train today, as it so happens. Ticket is $150 and takes something like 17 hours. He could get there in just a few hours by plane for $180. He says he is going by train because "his friends are going by train", but does not have a good reason for why they are traveling that way. I'm pretty sure I figured it out in about 12 seconds: no TSA means he can bring as much weed and whatever else he is using these days with him. Which, if that is the reason, seems like a much better reason than not liking the results dialed up on Berkley's carbon calculator.

There is one more pretty good reason:  It's a thing in itself.  You miss a lot at 35,000 feet.  Riding Amtrak is an experience.

Also, it's a biatch to get into Manhattan from the airports or (Lord help you!) by car. Amtrak lets you off in Penn Station.


Fly into EWR and take the NJ Transit train; it drops you right off at Penn Station. Later this year I think they're supposed to add direct train service to Grand Central and lower Manhattan.
 
2014-02-19 11:54:55 AM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: Also, it's a biatch to get into Manhattan from the airports or (Lord help you!) by car. Amtrak lets you off in Penn Station.


I suppose you're not familiar with Kennedy Airport. You can take the train from there to Penn Station. It costs five bucks.
 
2014-02-19 11:55:56 AM  
As a Canadian, I am mega-jealous of the cheapness of Amtrak. I did a round trip from Port Huron to Chicago, about 8 hours each way for $57. $57!! The comparable Toronto-Montreal or Toronto-Ottawa ticket, not on sale, would be about $160 on Via. Blarg.
 
2014-02-19 11:58:18 AM  
I've taken a few longer train rides: DC to Boston, Chicago to Seattle, and the Coast Starlight from Seattle to Los Angeles.

I've looked into taking a vacation via train, but as others have said, it's often as if not more expensive to take the train as to fly, and it take a lot longer.  Like, LA to SF is about 12 hours by train (driving, it's 5.5) and costs about double what a Southwest shuttle costs.  I would have no problem with the time, generally, but it's hard to justify slower+more expensive.  I was looking into doing just that this winter - I'd rather ride a train to the mountains than deal with chains and snowy roads - but I couldn't justify it financially.

Now, getting to San Diego from LA is easier by train and, if we go by federal mileage rates, cheaper: the expensive seats are like $60 and it takes less than 2 hours, whereas driving is 150ish miles and a couple of hours (or more during rush hour).  I may be doing that in the middle of next month for a convention.

I have to say, though, that some of the scenery is awesome.  On the ride down from Seattle, the train went through the middle of a forest fire at about 1 in the morning.  I woke up to us crawling at about 5 mph with the glowing flames outside, so I headed to the all-glass observation car and just sat and watched for an hour or so as we passed through (stopping occasionally - for emergency traffic or dangerous conditions, I assumed).  It was totally surreal.
 
2014-02-19 11:59:14 AM  

FlashHarry: I live in a New York City apartment with tinier-than-normal energy-efficient appliances, I bike or take public transportation most places, I compost, the bulk of our food comes from the local farmer's market, I live walking distance to work, I fly only rarely. However, when I needed to go to the Ragdale Artists Colony in Lake Forest, Ill. (an hour outside of Chicago) to finish my novel, I took a look at the University of California, Berkeley's carbon calculator to see how much the short-ish flight would set the planet back.

the pretentiousness... it burns!


This makes me want to go burn a pile of tires, just because.
 
2014-02-19 12:02:13 PM  
It's a toss-up.... It is longer to travel by train, but it IS an experience... It's beautiful, you actually have the chance to meet people. you can move around, etc... TFA has a point about a lot of things. IN a plane, you have the choice to stare at the back of the seat in front of you, or the view on the way to the bathroom. You might be able to look out the window, too, but comparing a plane window to a train window is like comparing a dirty porthole to a holodeck, especially when you add in the observation car. As for meeting people, on a plane, you're condemned to whomever you are sitting next to, on the train, you have the chance of who ever happens to wander into the observation car, or might sit next to you, or into the dining car, or the bar car, etc...

The problem is time... I'm thinking about visiting my friends in Sacramento, but it's an 18 hour train trip, that means that 3 days is taken up by the trip itself. Then again, I get to ride up and over the San Francisco Peaks and past Lake Tahoe, so I can't complain too much. Also, when you factor in getting to the airport, parking, navigating the airport, going through security, getting there early, sitting through a layover, etc., the train isn't always all that much longer.

And it is a much calmer experience to me. Airports give me a panic attack.
 
2014-02-19 12:02:13 PM  
We took Amtrak from Atlanta to New York last summer.  Was $1200 for four people, round-trip, a little less than the plane tickets at the time.

We enjoyed the trip.  It was around 14 hours, which was twice as long as I'd expect the entire airplane security theater/transit time/luggage pickup/get cab into New York to cost, and Penn Station was literally across the street from our Hotel (Hotel Pennsylvania).

It was much more comfortable than flying, it was much more laid back, we brought a cooler full of drinks and a bag full of food, we didn't have to take our shoes off or even walk through a metal detector.

I'd take the train over the plane next time I travel, if time permits.
 
2014-02-19 12:02:22 PM  
They're moving a shiat-ton of oil via rail right now, so Amtrak has to stop and get out of the way quite a bit.
The Railroad Barons are alive and well.
 
2014-02-19 12:03:24 PM  
"While the sleek airplane has a futuristic capsule quality, on the train, I was reminded of Proust"

In the tens of thousands of miles I've traveled by train in the US, I can safely say I have never been reminded of Proust, ever.   Faust, occasionally.

It really is a nice way to travel, if you have the time and a rewards card to get you a room.
 
2014-02-19 12:03:25 PM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: nekom: Three Crooked Squirrels: I've got a nephew going to Kansas from New York on a train today, as it so happens. Ticket is $150 and takes something like 17 hours. He could get there in just a few hours by plane for $180. He says he is going by train because "his friends are going by train", but does not have a good reason for why they are traveling that way. I'm pretty sure I figured it out in about 12 seconds: no TSA means he can bring as much weed and whatever else he is using these days with him. Which, if that is the reason, seems like a much better reason than not liking the results dialed up on Berkley's carbon calculator.

There is one more pretty good reason:  It's a thing in itself.  You miss a lot at 35,000 feet.  Riding Amtrak is an experience.

Also, it's a biatch to get into Manhattan from the airports or (Lord help you!) by car. Amtrak lets you off in Penn Station.


So spend 14 more hours on a train to save an hour at the end of the trip by not having to take public transit from Newark or LaGuardia. That makes sense.
 
2014-02-19 12:03:42 PM  
The oddity of the pricing being out of whack usually destroys me taking the train. I can get a roundtrip flight for the same price it costs me to go one-way on Amtrak from DC to Boston.

That said, I *far* prefer to take the Train. I like being able to get up, walk around and the seats are better than those on the flight. I also like not being x-rayed or otherwise TSA'd up my arse.

Thirdly, and I can't believe nobody else has mentioned this, the might and wonder of the Quiet Car. Hooooly fark, what a great invention. Nothing like seeing chatty idiots getting escorted out because they thought they were above everyone else.

Blissful, delicious, enforced quiet.
 
2014-02-19 12:05:59 PM  
I love Amtrak this summer I did

Philly - Seattle
Seattle - LA
LA - Philly

All by Amtrak.. Pay up for a roomette, bring your own booze..  Best time of my life.
 
2014-02-19 12:06:23 PM  

SigmaAlgebra: So spend 14 more hours on a train to save an hour at the end of the trip by not having to take public transit from Newark or LaGuardia. That makes sense.


14 hours on a train or a NYC cab ride, hmmm....  It's a toss-up.
 
2014-02-19 12:06:54 PM  
Let us see what the greenies who do real research say about transportation and carbon.  Huh.   Over 1000 miles, the train is actually worse than the aeroplane.  Who knew?
 
2014-02-19 12:07:24 PM  
I hate flying (actually, I hate airports), so I'd really like to travel by train.  Every time I've investigated it, though, Amtrak would have cost a fortune, taken days, and involved long lay-overs.  It's just not a feasible option.
 
2014-02-19 12:08:55 PM  

Tom_Slick: nekom: Tom_Slick: She is spot on about security and baggage though, I used to have to transport large trade show displays from Atlanta to DC and when I did I always took Amtrak.

Is it still pretty much no1curr about bags?  Haven't been on a train in awhile, but the Amtrak stop closest to here resembles a bus stop with a little kiosk.  The train pulls up, you get on, you go.

Amtrak:  Travel with your weed!  We don't give a shiat.

Pretty much, except for long distance trains with baggage cars for oversized items these are handled by Amtrak personnel so in theory you should keep contraband out of that .  Your personal stuff you are taking to your seats is not checked, although now that all trains are completely non-smoking don't toke up on board.


I remember a drum-guitar circle with weed and stuff on the open floor where wheelchairs could park in an otherwise vacant 1/3rd of a cafe car.  This was the Night Owl from Boston to Philly in the 1980s.

The car was supposed to be closed until morning, but the conductor came in, looked at us, and decided that we were better off in there than bugging the people trying to sleep in coach.

Good times.
 
2014-02-19 12:09:20 PM  
I'd love to take the train if I could go direct, it would get us there overnight, and the price was reasonable.

But I just priced out Amtrak for our September vacation. Flying will get us there in 2.5-4 hours (depending on direct or connecting flights) and cost around $700 (round trip) for two people and another $150-250 for a rental car. Driving takes at least a full day (it's about 12-14 hours actual drive time) and costs $300ish in fuel, with another $100 for a hotel room if we don't want to one-hop it. No rental needed.

Amtrak was a bit over $700 and would take TWO DAMN DAYS to get there... as in leave on Monday, arrive on Wednesday. Two train changes would be required, as would a rental at our destination. I know the folks on the eastern seaboard can use the Auto Train, which would be neat, but that still takes 17 hours or so to get there.

I've just yet to see any way Amtrak beats driving unless you want to work as you travel, and even then flying is much faster.
 
2014-02-19 12:09:35 PM  

noneyourbase: FlashHarry: I live in a New York City apartment with tinier-than-normal energy-efficient appliances, I bike or take public transportation most places, I compost, the bulk of our food comes from the local farmer's market, I live walking distance to work, I fly only rarely. However, when I needed to go to the Ragdale Artists Colony in Lake Forest, Ill. (an hour outside of Chicago) to finish my novel, I took a look at the University of California, Berkeley's carbon calculator to see how much the short-ish flight would set the planet back.

the pretentiousness... it burns!

Logged in just to post the same thing.  That has got to be the most pretentious sentence I've ever read.


There was a sentence in there with the phrase "Proustian soothe." That has to be close.

PleaseHamletDon'tHurtEm: Ridden the Amtrak to Chicago a few times. Wouldn't be so bad except it's late getting there to pick you up, and freight traffic is priority so you get to sit around wishing you'd driven. The rural scenery is nice but is sort of ruined by riding past many buildings whose backyards are choked with scrap and junk.

Nowadays since we got the service it's Megabus all the way. Faster, with wifi on board. No driving. Whee!


Amtrak has slow, once a day service to Indianapolis. I'd take it in a heartbeat if it were high speed or had more than one train a day. Other options are train to Champaign and transfer to bus or just another bus. I made the mistake of taking Greyhound once. Megabus has gotten my money every single time. It doesn't hurt that I can book a random time of day a month in advance for 1/3 the normal price either. I'd prefer a train but Megabus is plenty good enough for me.
 
2014-02-19 12:10:10 PM  
This poor, selfless, put upon woman.  Saving us all for nothing more than a paltry paycheck and a byline in some pseudo journal.
 
2014-02-19 12:10:19 PM  
The recurring problem that comes up is that Amtrack is obscenely expensive.  I mean, if it's so much cheaper than jet fuel and pilots, air maintenance, whatnot, where is the price coming from?
 
2014-02-19 12:12:28 PM  

bdub77: Why not just buy a carbon offset? You can purchase 2.4 tons of carbon offset from carbonfund.org for about 25 bucks. Or spend the extra I dunno 12 hours you'd save off the plane planting trees somewhere.

Sure OK you're saving money but time is money. And being on a train for 19 hours sucks balls. And like the previous poster said I've never seen a round trip train ticket 1/3 the cost of airfare.


With all the pretentious bullshiat in this article...can the rest of us purchase smug offsets?!?!?

theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com
/thanks fartbongo
 
2014-02-19 12:13:35 PM  
I took a trip last year via Amtrak from Kansas City to Chicago. My wife hates flying (due to discomfort, not fear of dying), and also tends to get a little stressed during longer road trips. I decided to take a train for a long weekend in Chicago and she loved it. I forked out about $100 more for these train tickets than it would have taken to fly and it took 8 hours vice 2, but i was able to get a cheap "roomette" (small room with chairs that can fold to beds) and chatted with her the entire way there. She loved it.

The people on the train were much more laid back than anything I had experienced at the airport. There was even a time that someone had left a larger piece of baggage just sitting next to a line of people and walked off, but they just made an announcement to come get their bag and did not freak out about a potential bomb. The meals are also pretty cool as, due to limited space, they sit you at tables with people that you generally wouldn't get a chance to talk with and hear some interesting stories. I could see how it could be awkward if you are nervous around strangers, though.

The downside of the trip was that I had planned on coming back by transferring through St. Louis and just riding coach that way, but since i had arrived at the station less than 5 minutes before the train left (3 minutes to spare according to the ticket because I had accidentally initially went to the subway station instead of the Amtrak station), they refused to let me board the train. When i pointed out that i still had 3 minutes to spare, they just cussed at me in what i got to know during my time there as the typical Chicago fashion and told me to get a ticket for the next train departing the next day, they were not going to let me in, and if i kept on protesting about it, they were going to call over security. I ended up just getting another roomette and a direct train to Kansas City that arrived at about midnight. The train ride itself was still relaxing and my wife enjoyed it.

Moral of the story: Amtrak has its advantages and disadvantages, but if they would just model and advertise themselves as a way to travel in relaxation and luxury, they would likely be able to attract more customers.
 
2014-02-19 12:14:02 PM  

The My Little Pony Killer: Not having to go through security-molestation theater ALONE is worth the cost and time of taking Amtrak.


This.  Moreover, being packed into an airplane shoulder-to-shoulder is not travel - it's human transport.   Also, no one ever fell 40,000ft from a dining car.

Everything the writer saw as the downside to travel by rail is exactly what gives it its humanity - something utterly lacking in air travel.
 
2014-02-19 12:14:43 PM  
I don't get it.  The fuel tank in a 737 can only have 20 tons of carbon in it, and that's in the long-range model.  You probably don't load (or burn) all 6800 gallons just to go 3000 miles.

Are they saying there was only 8 people on the plane, and a headwind?  How else do you get 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger?  Any bigger plane would have many more people on it or it wouldn't be flying.  Any smaller plane would burn less fuel.

It's impossible to emit 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger on a commercial transcontinental flight.
 
2014-02-19 12:15:50 PM  
FTFA: But, as the sun set, I smugly pulled out a half-bottle of wine as well as the Swiss army knife needed to open it.

And before that you smugly worked on your novel on the train, smugly ate an apple, smugly boarded a train, and smugly announced to anyone that would listen that you're saving the planet by taking the train.

I'm all for doing things that save the environment but can we just list practicalities without waxing poetic about olden times?  Yes, the train is less damaging emissions-wise than planes and yes, taking them should be encouraged for that reason.

/I'm looking into a trip from SC to Boston in March by Amtrak.
//EVERBODY LOOK AT ME!!
///I'M GOING TO TAKE A TRAIN TO SAVE YOU ALL!!!
//also to have sex on a train.
 
2014-02-19 12:16:00 PM  

nekom: Three Crooked Squirrels: I've got a nephew going to Kansas from New York on a train today, as it so happens. Ticket is $150 and takes something like 17 hours. He could get there in just a few hours by plane for $180. He says he is going by train because "his friends are going by train", but does not have a good reason for why they are traveling that way. I'm pretty sure I figured it out in about 12 seconds: no TSA means he can bring as much weed and whatever else he is using these days with him. Which, if that is the reason, seems like a much better reason than not liking the results dialed up on Berkley's carbon calculator.

There is one more pretty good reason:  It's a thing in itself.  You miss a lot at 35,000 feet.  Riding Amtrak is an experience.


That sounds really inexpensive for Amtrak. I've seen them regularly charge more than that for a non-acela ride from NY to Boston. That's one of the reasons I dislike them- such arbitrary pricing, and they always raise the price as departure time arrives, even if the train has plenty of unsold seats. Seems like a gouge to me and I dislike them for it. I only take the train here and there now. I'd do it a lot more often if they had consistent and reasonable pricing.
 
2014-02-19 12:16:35 PM  

ikanreed: The recurring problem that comes up is that Amtrack is obscenely expensive.  I mean, if it's so much cheaper than jet fuel and pilots, air maintenance, whatnot, where is the price coming from?


Government subsidies of air travel, in the form of air traffic control, airports, etc.
 
2014-02-19 12:16:48 PM  

Angela Lansbury's Merkin: Train to visit my parents: $500-600 and 20+ hours
Plane to visit my parents: $200-300 and 2 hours


BS. You spend more than 2 hours checking bags, going through security, checking in for boarding, and waiting for bags when you get off.
 
2014-02-19 12:16:52 PM  
I wonder if Miss Pretentious would feel as smug after traveling all the way to the west coast by train, say San Francisco. After 19+ hours to Chicago she would have up to four hours to make her connection, or need a hotel in Chicago before another 52 hours to the Bay Area.

I love taking occasional trips on Amtrak. In the near future I have trips from LA to Seattle and Chicago to New Orleans planned. But cross country trips are way too long even for Miss Smug 2014.
 
2014-02-19 12:17:02 PM  

Iszael: I don't get it.  The fuel tank in a 737 can only have 20 tons of carbon in it, and that's in the long-range model.  You probably don't load (or burn) all 6800 gallons just to go 3000 miles.

Are they saying there was only 8 people on the plane, and a headwind?  How else do you get 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger?  Any bigger plane would have many more people on it or it wouldn't be flying.  Any smaller plane would burn less fuel.

It's impossible to emit 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger on a commercial transcontinental flight.


Amortized cost of production and maintenance?
 
2014-02-19 12:17:36 PM  

Mikey1969: It's a toss-up.... It is longer to travel by train, but it IS an experience... It's beautiful, you actually have the chance to meet people. you can move around, etc... TFA has a point about a lot of things. IN a plane, you have the choice to stare at the back of the seat in front of you, or the view on the way to the bathroom. You might be able to look out the window, too, but comparing a plane window to a train window is like comparing a dirty porthole to a holodeck, especially when you add in the observation car. As for meeting people, on a plane, you're condemned to whomever you are sitting next to, on the train, you have the chance of who ever happens to wander into the observation car, or might sit next to you, or into the dining car, or the bar car, etc...

The problem is time... I'm thinking about visiting my friends in Sacramento, but it's an 18 hour train trip, that means that 3 days is taken up by the trip itself. Then again, I get to ride up and over the San Francisco Peaks and past Lake Tahoe, so I can't complain too much. Also, when you factor in getting to the airport, parking, navigating the airport, going through security, getting there early, sitting through a layover, etc., the train isn't always all that much longer.

And it is a much calmer experience to me. Airports give me a panic attack.


Anything more than a 6 hour drive or train ride is going to be tilted in favor of flying in my experience as long as you're not either coming from or going to a place more than an hour away. That obviously shrinks if you have to rent the car for the duration of the vacation. I priced out a drive to Nashville in a rental car from Chicago vs a flight + cab to downtown. Flying won out. It was cheaper, and no one wants my girlfriend driving places she hasn't been to before (least of all me) and not at night. I can drive for 8 hours straight but why would I want to when I can fly there in 2 hours and we can actually enjoy a three day weekend versus driving overnight?
 
2014-02-19 12:18:55 PM  

Iszael: I don't get it.  The fuel tank in a 737 can only have 20 tons of carbon in it, and that's in the long-range model.  You probably don't load (or burn) all 6800 gallons just to go 3000 miles.

Are they saying there was only 8 people on the plane, and a headwind?  How else do you get 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger?  Any bigger plane would have many more people on it or it wouldn't be flying.  Any smaller plane would burn less fuel.

It's impossible to emit 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger on a commercial transcontinental flight.


1 ton of jet fuel once combusted can create just over 3 tons of C02 (I want to say 3.17, but don't quote me) , when mixed with the O in the air.  It's not a closed system.
 
2014-02-19 12:19:08 PM  
Seattle to Vancouver BC-
Pure bliss. Relaxing, roomy, quiet and a decent food area.
Good scenery.

This was my only ride on Amtrak.I'm afraid to burst the bubble and try again elsewhere.
Anyone ever do Colorado to San Fran?
 
2014-02-19 12:19:23 PM  

derpy: ikanreed: The recurring problem that comes up is that Amtrack is obscenely expensive.  I mean, if it's so much cheaper than jet fuel and pilots, air maintenance, whatnot, where is the price coming from?

Government subsidies of air travel, in the form of air traffic control, airports, etc.


Wait, here's more on that thought:

Where government supports rail well and in an equivalent sort of way as its support of air and highways, Amtrak does awesome.  Look at the Philly-Harrisburg corridor and the convenient schedules and such.  That's because the state of PA pays for that.  Beyond Harrisburg, to Pittsburgh, there is one train a day, because Amtrak has to pull itself up by its bootstraps there.
 
2014-02-19 12:19:29 PM  

Iszael: I don't get it.  The fuel tank in a 737 can only have 20 tons of carbon in it, and that's in the long-range model.  You probably don't load (or burn) all 6800 gallons just to go 3000 miles.

Are they saying there was only 8 people on the plane, and a headwind?  How else do you get 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger?  Any bigger plane would have many more people on it or it wouldn't be flying.  Any smaller plane would burn less fuel.

It's impossible to emit 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger on a commercial transcontinental flight.


It's probably 2.4 tons of CO2 - each 6 grams of carbon from the fuel results in 22 grams of CO2 exhaust.
 
2014-02-19 12:21:15 PM  
I'm in Minneapolis, and if I'm going to Chicago, or the Pacific NW, it's Amtrak all the way.  Why?  Four words: "glass-roofed bar car."  Most trips I've taken have turned into moving parties.
 
2014-02-19 12:21:49 PM  

jonnya: That sounds really inexpensive for Amtrak. I've seen them regularly charge more than that for a non-acela ride from NY to Boston. That's one of the reasons I dislike them- such arbitrary pricing, and they always raise the price as departure time arrives, even if the train has plenty of unsold seats. Seems like a gouge to me and I dislike them for it. I only take the train here and there now. I'd do it a lot more often if they had consistent and reasonable pricing.


All modes of transportation do that, because it encourages you to book early, which helps them plan things further in advance, which is cheaper for them.
 
2014-02-19 12:22:20 PM  

udhq: I'm in Minneapolis, and if I'm going to Chicago, or the Pacific NW, it's Amtrak all the way.  Why?  Four words: "glass-roofed bar car."  Most trips I've taken have turned into moving parties.


also, this
 
2014-02-19 12:22:28 PM  
I frequently take the train, especially in the northeast corridor when I'm up visiting family. It usually costs about the same as a flight would, but I *hate* the airport, and if you're going to/from NYC, just skipping the cab ride and the airport alone saves you 2 hours and 50 bucks. With a lot of airports, they take you to someplace kind of near the city... in Denver, DIA is like an hour out of town... when I'm going to a city... I want to go to that city, not to some stupid suburbs a while a way. Also, I just hate airports... the security is ridiculous, the lines are retardedly long, people do all kinds of stupid crap (I didn't think the laptop rule applied to *me*). Aside from all that, the train ride can be beautiful... if you ever get the chance to ride west from Denver to SLC... it is probably one of the prettiest train rides you'll ever take.
 
2014-02-19 12:22:42 PM  

Enigmamf: Angela Lansbury's Merkin: Train to visit my parents: $500-600 and 20+ hours
Plane to visit my parents: $200-300 and 2 hours

BS. You spend more than 2 hours checking bags, going through security, checking in for boarding, and waiting for bags when you get off.


If you have a family or *have* to check a bag it might. If I'm alone or traveling with my GF for less than a five day vacation, usually get there about 90 minutes before takeoff and spend far more time waiting for the plane than other stuff.
 
2014-02-19 12:24:22 PM  

Three Crooked Squirrels: I've got a nephew going to Kansas from New York on a train today, as it so happens. Ticket is $150 and takes something like 17 hours. He could get there in just a few hours by plane for $180. He says he is going by train because "his friends are going by train", but does not have a good reason for why they are traveling that way. I'm pretty sure I figured it out in about 12 seconds: no TSA means he can bring as much weed and whatever else he is using these days with him. Which, if that is the reason, seems like a much better reason than not liking the results dialed up on Berkley's carbon calculator.


Or, it could actually be because his friends are also going by train, and it gives him an excuse to hang out with them, relax, and shoot the shiat for a while.  Sometimes the journey is half the fun.
 
2014-02-19 12:25:14 PM  
I like taking a train sometimes. You get to see more than you can from a plane. But you have to be willing to sometimes pay more than airfare and be in no hurry to get to your destination.
 
2014-02-19 12:25:35 PM  
The laws of phisics would say that it would take the same expenditure of energy to get you from point A to point B no matter how you do it. The same amount of fuel would be used weather or not your on a plane or train.
 
2014-02-19 12:25:55 PM  

redmid17: Anything more than a 6 hour drive or train ride is going to be tilted in favor of flying in my experience as long as you're not either coming from or going to a place more than an hour away. That obviously shrinks if you have to rent the car for the duration of the vacation. I priced out a drive to Nashville in a rental car from Chicago vs a flight + cab to downtown. Flying won out. It was cheaper, and no one wants my girlfriend driving places she hasn't been to before (least of all me) and not at night. I can drive for 8 hours straight but why would I want to when I can fly there in 2 hours and we can actually enjoy a three day weekend versus driving overnight?


Yeah, we have to drive for our Az trip every year because we can't afford to fly 5 people down and back, but I sure as hell don't want to burn half my trip with a drive if I can avoid it, at least the train provides a scenic trip everyone can enjoy, but I agree that you still lose a lot of your time travelling. Flying is quicker, but sure is a great way to miss large swatches of America.Nothing is truly a win-win, I guess...
 
2014-02-19 12:26:20 PM  

Angry Drunk Bureaucrat: bdub77: Sure OK you're saving money but time is money. And being on a train for 19 hours sucks balls

I guess it depends on which route you're taking. Up the East Coast, it's easier and less harrowing than driving and the time is comparable to flying.

If you're crossing the Appalachians, though, it sucks balls. The only real advantage is for places like DC or NYC, it plops you down in the middle of the City with quick access to public transit. Of course, the scenery is nice, but it would be nice to see it at 55, 65 or 100 mph, instead of 25.


The scenery between DC and NYC is mostly hideous. I haven't seen that much poverty since Cairo.
 
2014-02-19 12:27:35 PM  

FlashHarry: I live in a New York City apartment with tinier-than-normal energy-efficient appliances, I bike or take public transportation most places, I compost, the bulk of our food comes from the local farmer's market, I live walking distance to work, I fly only rarely. However, when I needed to go to the Ragdale Artists Colony in Lake Forest, Ill. (an hour outside of Chicago) to finish my novel, I took a look at the University of California, Berkeley's carbon calculator to see how much the short-ish flight would set the planet back.

the pretentiousness... it burns!


This. Holy CHRISTMAS is she impressed with herself!
 
2014-02-19 12:31:46 PM  

trippdogg: Also, no one ever fell 40,000ft from a dining car.


http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/12/01/bronx-train-der ai lment/3795231/

And planes never get derailed.

Enigmamf: BS. You spend more than 2 hours checking bags, going through security, checking in for boarding, and waiting for bags when you get off.


I rarely check bags and pre-checkin online.  Security doesn't take that long.  I get there an hour before a flight and have yet to miss one. (maybe 15 minutes more if I have to check in, or longer if its a holiday or something).
 
2014-02-19 12:32:56 PM  

Fish in a Barrel: I hate flying (actually, I hate airports)


THIS.

So much this. Everyone biatches about TSA, but that's not it, it's the locked-in aspect, the 'We can charge you anything we want' aspect, the worrying about any gesture I make being misinterpreted as "suspicious" aspect, the nothing to do aspect, etc... I get panic attacks in airports, and my wife didn't realize this until we got stuck on a 7 hour layover...
 
2014-02-19 12:33:10 PM  

Enigmamf: Isz


Enigmamf: Iszael: I don't get it.  The fuel tank in a 737 can only have 20 tons of carbon in it, and that's in the long-range model.  You probably don't load (or burn) all 6800 gallons just to go 3000 miles.

Are they saying there was only 8 people on the plane, and a headwind?  How else do you get 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger?  Any bigger plane would have many more people on it or it wouldn't be flying.  Any smaller plane would burn less fuel.

It's impossible to emit 2.4 tons of carbon per passenger on a commercial transcontinental flight.

It's probably 2.4 tons of CO2 - each 6 grams of carbon from the fuel results in 22 grams of CO2 exhaust.


No, the math still doesn't work out.  Typical transcon flights are full, that's 110 to 140 people per 737, even 60 tons of CO2 divided by that many people is less than half a ton per person.

Also, did Amtrak get a whole hell of a lot faster than it used to run?  I didn't know they could average 160 MPH.  Kind of cool, I guess, but I'll take 500 MPH in a plane instead since the "carbon footprint" isn't anywhere near as bad as they say.
 
2014-02-19 12:35:36 PM  
She must've been absolutely horrified to see all of the SUVs and V8s roaming around Lake Forest as they pedal stomped their way to pick up groceries.

/I want to take a nice, scenic train ride
//haven't taken one in a looooong time
///did a massive roadtrip out to Seattle for PAX Prime though :)
 
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