Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jonah rides the train

Jonah Goldberg on his recent foray in to high speed rail travel...........

This last weekend, my wife, my daughter, and I needed to go up to NYC for the weekend (the grown-ups to attend Rich Lowry’s spectacular wedding to his spectacular new bride, my daughter to stay with grandma). For boring and ill-thought-out reasons we decided to take the train instead of driving. Basically, our six-year-old Volvo SUV needs to go to the shop and both the Fair Jessica and I are on brutal work deadlines and we figured we could get some writing done on the train. So we booked three unreserved coach tickets, round trip, weekend rate. The total cost? $750. Unlike the more pleasant, and more expensive, Acela, the train was loud, dirty, and crowded. The bathrooms had the rich, earthy musk of — literally — a Port-o-John on rails.

Now, as I understand it, Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor service is by far its most popular. Something like a third of all Amtrak’s daily usage is in the Northeast. Amtrak, of course, loses money, though its biggest losses come from the long-haul service. Anyway, my point isn’t to get deep in the policy weeds or the service’s books. But come on! $750 to replace a drive to New York City and back. We feel like idiots for doing it.


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