Say you're a young fellow looking to take his best girl on a trip to the countryside along the shores of beautiful Lake Champlain. And let's say you've become a little alarmed by all this talk of global warming and peak oil and you'd like to do your small part to consume as little fuel as possible on the trip. And let's say you're a railfan from way back and have always wanted to take a long train ride through some pretty scenery (Philadelphia to Boston in late December on the Metroliner doesn't count). What do you do?
Why, you drive, of course, because it's well over $300 for two people by Amtrak, you can't leave on the day you want because the train only runs in the morning and you have to work, and sometimes the Adirondack gets delayed for ten hours.
Passenger rail transportation in this country is pitiful. And while I'm aware of the economics of the situation, I'm also aware the economics have been skewed by hundreds of billions of dollars in Federal loot for the airline and automobile industries (mostly indirectly in the latter case, in the form of highway subsidies) while Amtrak has to beg for pocket change from Uncle Sam and go to the freight railroads with its hat in its hand for time on their tracks. So it costs too much and the service sucks, driving away customers, which costs them money, which makes it cost too much and the service suck.
Which brings me to another irritation: the stumpfucks in the Pennsylvania State House who are bitching and moaning about funding SEPTA on the Commonwealth's dime after they cripple its ability to raise money any other way. Anyone who has ever had to regularly ride SEPTA knows what a third rate transit system it is--especially if you've ridden the DC Metro or MBTA or the New York subway--but the potential is there for SEPTA to actually be a respectable system, if the money ever shows up. What we'll probably get is more wailing and crying about it from the Pennsylbama contingent in the legislature, who bitch about transit subsidies for the big bad city (it's full of Negroes and the gays, you know), as if the infrastructure for cars and trucks is free.
Only in my wildest fantasies (and novels) is the US crisscrossed by a network of electrically powered bullet trains, but for a country that's supposedly started getting the Green bug, we sure don't seem to be doing very much to actually get cars and trucks off the road. And this is the easy stuff.