Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Joining The NARP: Keeping Railways Open To Passengers

I joined the National Association of Railway Passengers. I suppose my money will be spent fighting the money I send to the Cato Institute, but I really believe that funding the Nation's RailRoad System now is an investment in our future...yes I said future.

I know that people think that railway traffic is a thing of the past but I have to say that I would rather take an Acela Express to Washington DC than fly into Reagan National or (G-d forbid Dulles.) The Railroad is an inexpensive, profit making travel alternative for me.

Look it takes me 1 hour to get from my home on Long Island to either of the big airports closest to me. It takes the same time to get to Penn Station NYC by taking the Long Island Railroad or driving. I have to drive to the airport. I can work on the LIRR. I cannot work on the LIE. (That's the Long Island Expressway for the uninitiated. Alan King called it the Worlds longest parking lot...He was right)

I have to be to the airport at least an hour and if I really want to be safe two hours before flight time. By the time I get through the gate and to my gate, buy a coffee and find a place to open my laptop it can take almost an hour.
I also have to "strip" first to get past the metal detectors...not a pretty site.

At Penn station I have use of a nice lounge and I only have to be there a half hour before my scheduled departure.

On a flight to DC I cannot get up to use the restroom... or really for any other reason. I can roam the train if I want to. The train seats are spacious. I am a big guy. On the plane, I have to buy a second seat or talk my way into first class if I really want comfort. I have plenty of legroom and work space on the train. I have no legroom or work space on the plane.

On the train I have full Wi-fi connectivity for nearly the whole time, on the plane I have to shut off my Verizon WWAN device or take responsibility for a mid air disaster. On the train I even have a plug.

On the train I can sit at a table across from my colleagues. We can spread out like in the law school library. On the plane? No way.

BUT WHAT ABOUT TIME???? What about it? It takes the Acela about 2:45 to get from NY to Washington. I bill about 2 hours of that minimum. It is nearly always on time. The shuttle is 45 minutes and it always takes off late. There are almost always flight delays getting into NY this summer. I can't work while I lose and hour or two at the gate. From my house to my hotel in DC it is a 4 hour ordeal. I took the plane three times from Chicago to NY. Direct NON STOP FLIGHTS!!! Average time spent in travel from Home to hotel 9 hours. Why...Delays Laguardia, Delays O'Hare. Expressway (an oxymoron)delays both cities. If we had a Acela Express to Chicago, time home to hotel... 6 hours!!

Now unfortunately we do not have Acela Express service to Chicago or Pittsburg or anywhere not in the Northeast Corridor, but we should. We should be making the kind of financial commitment to rail travel that Europe has made because in the long run it will increase profits for small and even big business.

Rail travel is stress free (at least for me) and efficient. If we had begun proper funding of Rail travel 30 years ago as we should have, we could have a lot better travel at a fraction of the cost.

Now before anyone goes on to tell me that Acela fares rival plane fares, let me say that based on my hourly billing rate, I would rather pay the Acela fare, than ride the plane...FOR FREE!!!That is the difference. If you haven't taken a intercity railway in a while, and can take the Acela Express, try it out. You will never go back. Heck I once became retained in a case for in excess of One Hundred Thousand Dollars, because I was able to call the client from the train. He was so impressed that I called him while I was traveling. I couldn't have done that from 30,000 feet.

If you do not live in a city that has Acela Service you should be writing your congressman and screaming. As prices go up and service gets weaker(on the airlines,) those trains are gonna look a lot more sweeter... Ok I will stick to polemics and avoid poetry. You get on your Congressman and Senators and don't just ask them to save Amtrak but ask them to make it even better!
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