Nov 20, 2007

Take the last train to Fuck You-Ville

My wife and I are planning to spend Christmas up in Philadelphia this year. That means we have to travel from Atlanta all the way up to the land of Cheesesteaks and obsessive sports talk radio. I had the idea that maybe we would take the train up there -- No long security lines, no need to turn off the iPod or put your tray table up. I think train travel is pretty much superior in every way to air travel (with the exception of that whole not-being-able-to-travel-over-water thing).

So I went to and looked up the price of two round-trip tickets from ATL to Philly. The price came to a completely fucking insane $712!

Then I went and looked up airfare. It turns out two round-trip tickets on AirTran Airways would cost $673.48.

Now, I know that Bush and his Republican buddies could give fuck-all about train service, but wow have things gotten bad for Amtrak. They can't even compete on price point basis with the airlines! Has the sheer insanity of this sunk in yet? FLYING IS NOW CHEAPER THAN TRAIN TRAVEL!!!

Yes, the world's least efficient mode of transportation, the one that uses far more fuel and causes far more pollution than any other method (even driving your SUV) is now our prefered way of travelling between cities. Delays caused by too many flights leaving too few runways and Soviet food line-esque security mazes have resulted in so many flight delays that Dubya the Dumber even had to re-route flights through military airspace. (If you read that a Boeing was accidentally shot down this week, remember, this Dubya we're talking about.)

The truth of the matter is Dubya and his criminal buddies (Tom Delay, Jack Abramoff, etc.) have always been in the pockets of the airlines, which spend millions of dollars on lobbying. All Amtrak has to lobby is a few federal bureaucrats who have no sway at all with Republican members of Congress, due to the railroad's perception that it only serves the Boston to Washington corridor. Bush himself keeps trying to kill Amtrak and wants a plan that puts rail transportation in the hands of the states.

So the Republicans are basically saying that inter-city travel, which by the very nature of it must connect different cities and states all across the country, should not be a function of the federal government!

I know there are people who say taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize rail travel, but the fact is that EVERY mode of transportation is already partially subsidized by federal and state governments -- and highways and airports are the chief beneficiaries of that public money, while rail travel is left to wither on the vine.

Even FEMA refused Amtrak's offer to help evacuate Katrina victims! Think about that for a second. We have a federal government that is so anti-Amtrak that it refused to let flood victims take trains out of New Orleans. Do you really think they're going to change course and start subsidizing train service at the expense of deep-pocketed airlines?

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