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robertogreco : amtrak   22

Amtrak Facing Rural Backlash Over Proposal to Cut Long-Distance Routes
"Amtrak’s proposals for altering or eliminating some of its long-distance train routes, in favor of more frequent service where the population is growing, is facing opposition among those who fear rural America would suffer. WSJ’s Jason Bellini reports."
amtrak  trains  us  policy  acela  rural  2019  funding 
8 weeks ago by robertogreco
There Is No Reason to Cross the U.S. by Train. But I Did It Anyway. - The New York Times
"Amtrak clings to the hope that someday people will view its service not as something that sucks and that they hate, but as something that is actually nice and that they don’t hate. There’s a whole separate Amtrak website dedicated to this dream (, where Amtrak does things like describe Los Angeles to people who have never heard of it. “The ‘City of Angels’ is one of the premier attractions in sunny Southern California.” But the other selling point of a cross-country train trip is a chance to look behind the American scrim: to learn where the nation makes and stores the hidden parts that run it, to find new places you wish you had been born, to spy on backyards and high school football fields whose possible existence had never occurred to you. Or me. Why not me? My boyfriend and I were planning a short vacation out West anyway. I could just leave a few days before him and get there after he arrived."

"The most unifying characteristic of my fellow passengers was not age (although, as a rule, the sleeping cars skewed retired), race (very mixed), income (while sleepers are astronomically priced, coach seats can be downright economical for shorter segments) or even fear of flying (no one I spoke to had it); it was their relaxed, easygoing, train-lulled contentment. To opt to travel long distance via Amtrak — a method deemed “on time” just 71.2 percent of the time by its own generous metric — is to say: As long as I get there eventually, I’m satisfied.

Train people are content to stare out the window for hours, like indoor cats. The trouble with the Lake Shore Limited is that the amount of enjoyment it is possible to derive from staring out the window of a train is inversely proportional to the population density of the land you are traversing. People need things, and unfortunately most of those things are ugly to look at. Many of them are gray. Views picked up considerably when, after a five-hour layover in Chicago, I transferred onto the Southwest Chief, a double-decker “Superliner” with many of its coach seats, sleeping quarters and lounges on the top level. Sightseer Lounges are the crown jewels of Amtrak’s long-distance trains: entire cars of retro-futuristic curved floor-to-ceiling windows where passengers can sit at tables or outward-facing upholstered chairs and watch the scenery streak by. Shortly into its route, the Chief passes the single best thing in the United States: a silo in Mendota, Ill., with an 80-by-20-foot ear of corn painted on one side.

Train people are also individuals for whom small talk is as invigorating as a rail of cocaine. For them, every meal on board Amtrak (communal seating like a Benihana, reservations only, included with the price of a sleeping-car ticket, check in with the dining-car attendant) is a rager. A white middle-aged man in motorcycle gear discussed leukemia treatment with a swish black grandmother. Another man, while gathering up armfuls of research books from a table, bid farewell to a farmer and suggested that he might run into him on the same train next year. I was seated at dinner with an Amish couple traveling to Arizona for a construction job, and by the time our Amtrak Signature Steaks with optional Béarnaise sauce arrived (the food is on a par with the fourth-best airplane meal you could ever imagine), we were deep in a conversation about one of my favorite topics, which is myself. I offered a tip I’d learned about cleaning up glitter using dryer sheets, and they laughed as they tried to envision a situation in which this information could ever be useful."
trains  us  travel  amtrak  slow  2019  caityweaver 
march 2019 by robertogreco
California Today: Stunning Views on the Train to Tahoe - The New York Times
"The Zephyr, which began in 1949, departs from Emeryville once daily in the morning and continues all the way to Chicago. It hugs the shores of the San Pablo and Suisun Bays, before heading across the checkerboard farmland of the Central Valley toward Sacramento.

From there, it moves into the Sierra foothills, through Auburn and the heart of Gold Rush country. Cinematic views of snowy peaks, lakes and forest unfold as it climbs to the highest point of the journey near Donner Pass (about 7,000 feet above sea level), skirting Lake Donner below.

Finally, a series of descending plateaus leads to the Truckee depot.

The trip takes about five and half hours, a couple of hours longer than it would by car (depending on traffic). Seats run from $46 to $88, and a dining car sells meals, coffee and wine."
rtuckee  amtrak  california  californiazephyr  auburn  2016  trains  travel  sierranevada 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Art + tech (13 Oct., 2015, at Interconnected)
"There's something about art + tech which is niggling at me. The process I'm interested in is when a technology organisation commissions or supports art as a way to understand itself.

I don't quite understand this itch or why I've got it, so I've spent a day looking at examples."
mattwebb  art  design  technology  1951  belllabs  1960s  1990s  lilianschwartz  rachelduckhouse  kitchens  amtrak  randcorporation  1971  andywarhol  advertising  marketing  davidchoe  eames  eamesoffice  2011  1968  electricobjects  eo1  brendandawes  mailchimp 
october 2015 by robertogreco
How Washington Derailed Amtrak -
"WHO'S TO BLAME for this sad state of affairs? It depends whom you ask. To conservatives, America has a second-rate train system because the government is running it. Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida, a longtime Amtrak skeptic, told me it was both a "Soviet-style" and "third-world" passenger service. If by "Soviet-style," he meant that labor costs are out of whack, it's true that a 2009 report by the Amtrak Office of Inspector General found the company's infrastructure workers to be 2.3 times more expensive annually than their European counterparts. And if by "third-world," he meant that Amtrak is often bumbling and incompetent, it's true that Acela's cars were originally built four inches too wide, preventing them from handling curves with any deftness. (The problem was eventually solved.)

To liberals, however, the problem is that the government hasn't invested nearly enough. After all, countries that boast more advanced systems support their trains with public subsidies that Amtrak could only dream of. (Britain's private rail network, for instance, received roughly $8 billion from the government last year.)

In November 2011, Robert Dove, a managing director at the Carlyle Group, the D.C.-based asset-management firm, delivered a presentation to the annual meeting of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association (USHSR), a lobbying-cum-cheerleading group formed shortly after Obama's election. Dove began his slide show with the usual embarrassing stats about America's high-speed-rail ineptitude (290 million annual high-speed-rail passengers in Japan; 3 million in America). He went on to estimate that for the Northeast Corridor alone to facilitate legitimate bullet-train travel, up to $117 billion in improvements were necessary. (Amtrak itself, in a 2012 plan that will probably never come to fruition—New York to Boston in 94 minutes!—put the number at $151 billion.) "You will not find the private sector willing to come in at the construction stage or the development stage," he warned. For that, the government would have to pick up the tab. Only at that point would you "find people like me very, very willing to come in and buy it." In other words, to get to the conservative dream of a privatized Amtrak, you would first have to pursue the liberal path of spending a massive amount of public money.

Dove's plan might be more realistic if we conceived of Amtrak as a piece of infrastructure—like a bridge or a tunnel—rather than as a for-profit corporation that can't quite turn a profit. "This is a public service," argues Andy Kunz, president of USHSR. "Our highways don't make a profit. Our airports don't make a profit. It's all paid for by the government." (Together, the Highway Trust Fund and the Federal Aviation Administration receive about 45 times what Amtrak does, through subsidies and gas taxes.)

That line of thinking isn't persuasive to everyone, evidently. In 2008, the last time a major Amtrak reauthorization was passed, Congress introduced a game-changing new rail policy: The law stipulated that, on all routes except for long-distance and Northeast Corridor trains, the states had to pay for trains' operating costs, while the feds would still handle the bulk of any needed investments. In theory, this was a good idea. Not only did it get more potential funders and political partners involved, but it was probably more fair. "Otherwise," as Railway Age contributing editor and Amtrak maven Frank Wilner puts it, "the federal government is robbing St. Petersburg to pay St. Paul, extracting a handling fee as the money flows through Washington.""
trains  us  amtrak  2015  transportation  transit  rail  highspeedrail  highspeed 
april 2015 by robertogreco
The Quiet Ones -
"In his recent treatise on this subject (its title regrettably unprintable here), the philosopher Aaron James posits that people with this personality type are so infuriating — even when the inconvenience they cause us is negligible — because they refuse to recognize the moral reality of those around them. (James’s thesis that this obliviousness correlates to a sense of special entitlement is corroborated by my own observation that the crowd on Amtrak, where airline-level fares act as a de facto class barrier, is generally louder and more inconsiderate than the supposed riffraff on the bus.) It’s a pathology that seems increasingly common, I suspect in part because people now spend so much time in the solipsist’s paradise of the Internet that they carry its illusion of invisible (and inaudible) omniscience back with them out into the real world."

"It’s impossible to be heard when your whole position is quiet now that all public discourse has become a shouting match."
publicspaces  sharedspace  consideration  society  attention  davidfosterwallace  listening  distraction  2012  trains  noise  etiquette  publicspace  amtrak  quietcar  slow  quiet  timkreider 
november 2012 by robertogreco
amtrak pacific surfliner - a set on Flickr
"views from the train, waiting in the stations, looking at the route. a few more photos.

train windows have a yellowish or purplish tint, and i like that.

these photos are arranged in geographical order, beginning with los angeles union station and heading northbound just past goleta."
photography  brittagustafson  trains  pacificsurfliner  amtrak 
october 2012 by robertogreco
The Time Machine - Ta-Nehisi Coates - Personal - The Atlantic
"The train, in all aspects, was a superior experience. The first thing was the feeling of everything melting away, of someone else taking control. When flying there are generally so many rules to be obeyed, and times when specific things can happen that I generally feel like, as a passenger, I'm actually a co-pilot. Lights tell you when you can and can't move. Announcements indicate (because I use a lap-top and iPad) when it's safe to read, write or listen to your music. Food and drink are administered at precise times. All of this within a confined space.

But there was a freedom on the train that you may need to be taller than six feet to really understand. You could walk as you needed to. You could sit in the cafe car and watch the scenery. You could fall into your book. Or you could just sleep, something I can't really do on airplanes. 

Finally there is the fact that, as much as possible, I should avoid supporting airline travel in its current American iteration…"

[See also: ]
ta-nehisicoates  flight  us  tsa  trains  amtrak  privacy  comfort  stress  2011  travel  policy  convenience 
november 2011 by robertogreco
My Country, My Train, My K-Hole by Hugh Ryan - The Morning News
"There are plenty of good reasons to ride a train cross-country, but for HUGH RYAN and his attention index, hitting the rails has one purpose: to escape the merciless internet."
internet  travel  attention  escape  culture  add  adhd  hughryan  trains  amtrak  slow  connectivity 
december 2010 by robertogreco
The Snailr Project
"One journey of almost 7000 miles, six new cities, eight trains, fifteen days, and every vignette, observation and fractured bitty-bit of the travelogue broken up and sent as status messages the old way. By postcard. To a bunch of random people who asked for one. Because travelling slowly is nice. And so is leaving a trail to see where we have been."
papernet  travel  snailr  slow  slowtravel  postcards  glvo  amtrak  trains  us  sanfrancisco  losangeles  seattle  memphis  neworleans  chicago  portland  nola 
november 2010 by robertogreco
Federal aid eyed for rail projects
"A long-running effort to improve the region's busiest stretch of railway is picking up steam.

The San Diego Association of Governments, the county's long-range planning agency, is seeking $377 million in federal stimulus money to revamp the coastal track between San Clemente and downtown San Diego.

Hoping to spur the economy, federal officials are preparing to give out $8 billion to expand high-speed and intercity rail systems nationwide. SANDAG believes it can make a strong argument for a chunk of it.

Jack Dale, chairman of the agency's transportation panel, said the improvements would bolster rail service and take more cars off Interstate 5."
sandiego  trains  rail  money  government  infrastructure  transportation  orangecounty  socal  amtrak  delmar  sanclemente  surfliner 
september 2009 by robertogreco
Train Detroit - The Atlantic (July/August 2009)
"Instead of scattering nickels and dimes across dozens of states, a better idea would be to increase the train fund at least tenfold so America can have at least one legitimate high-speed rail line like Spain’s Madrid-to-Seville train, which runs at 186 mph (Amtrak averages only 79 nationwide). And let this man-on-the-moon project start in Detroit. ... Of course, railroads helping to rescue Detroit would be sweet irony. It was General Motors, after all—in cahoots with a number of other companies—that set out to cripple mass transit in America, including the electric streetcars that once trundled through Detroit and Flint."
trains  us  rail  government  manufacturing  detroit  autoindustry  transportation  amtrak  highspeed  via:cityofsound  highspeedrail 
july 2009 by robertogreco
Amtrak California - Kids 'n Trains 2008-2009
"Kids 'n Trains is an exciting program available only on Amtrak California which enables schools and other youth groups such as boy scouts, girl scouts, church groups, etc., and their leaders and chaperones, to experience train travel at significantly reduced fares. Your group can explore California and its rich history while visiting exciting and educational destinations along the way. This special program is made available by the California Department of Transportation in partnership with Amtrak®."
trains  amtrak  tcsnmy  sandiego  losangeles  santabarbara  offcampustrips  classideas 
april 2009 by robertogreco
High-Speed Trains: Can the U.S. Catch Up?: Faster Trains on Track? - BusinessWeek
"The U.S. has long lagged behind the rest of the world in the development of high-speed trains. Countries like Japan & France have had extensive super-fast railroads for decades, providing travelers with convenient alternatives to planes and cars. China has a high-speed line, using maglev technology, in Shanghai with many more planned. Taiwan & South Korea have built high-speed train networks, too. Meanwhile, the US has nothing outside of the Northeast corridor. That may change soon. President Obama's stimulus plan...includes $8 billion to fund high-speed train projects. It’s unclear, though, how much the Obama administration is willing to spend on new rail lines. The cost of rail projects can be expensive. One example: Upgrading 322 kilometers of track between New York and Boston for Amtrak’s Acela train cost $1.6 billion a decade ago. Here's a look at high-speed train projects around the world—and some of the places in the U.S. that are hoping to get in on the action, too."
trains  us  amtrak  highspeed  rail  highspeedrail 
march 2009 by robertogreco
Uncle Sam Opens Wallet for Amtrak | Autopia from
"Bush plans to sign legislation that will double Amtrak funding to $13 billion over five years. It's an about-face for an administration that's been committed to whittling down Amtrak's budget and replacing it with "private sector funding," W's answer to everything but defense spending and Wall Street bailouts. Democrats aren't fans of this idea, and the Senate passed the funding bill — which also requires Amtrak and other rail companies to adopt collision avoidance technology — by a 74-24 vote. "
amtrak  rail  trains  us  transportation 
october 2008 by robertogreco
Next American City » Magazine » A New Era for Train Travel?
"Amtrak’s corridor and state-supported train services will undoubtedly grow, and its long-distance trains will connect those corridors. Amtrak will probably refurbish cars that are currently out of service and will work with some states to design and buy new ones. It may add a few new routes and increase trip frequency. But without a huge influx of federal dollars and a new national rail transportation policy — something akin to the political will and vision behind the construction of the interstate highway system — the peculiarities and penury of America’s passenger system will continue."
infrastructure  rail  amtrak  us  transportation  travel 
september 2008 by robertogreco
GOOD Magazine | Goodmagazine - Train in Vain
"Europe and Asia have figured it out, so why is the American rail system still so unspeakably awful? GOOD hops aboard a transcontinental train to find out."
rail  trains  us  transportation  goodmagazine  amtrak  travel  energy  infrastructure  environment  peakoil  policy  politics  economics  masstransit  transit  transport 
july 2008 by robertogreco
An Amtrak comeback? |
"House overwhelmingly approved nearly $15 billion for the national passenger railroad Wednesday, more than doubling its funding, just as ridership is at the highest point in its 37-history...311-104, a wide enough majority to override veto that White Hous
amtrak  trains  us  transportation  future  rail 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Getting on board with Amtrak's needs - The Boston Globe
"It is one thing to meet with an Amtrak worker for a photo-op. It is another to get on board for the rail service America needs for a green economy, less urban congestion, and a more civilized future."
amtrak  green  cars  politics  transportation  sustainability  barackobama  elections  2008  lobbying  energy  trains  via:cityofsound 
june 2008 by robertogreco
San Diego MTS Daytripper Program + Bay Ferry Youth Program + Amtrak California "Kids N' Trains"
"To book a field trip, we need at least 14 business days to plan your trip. Call the hotline and leave a detailed message about the trip. The coordinator will call back within two working days. Only confirmed trips are eligible for the Classroom Day Pass
sandiego  transit  transportation  lajolla  buses  rail  classideas  teaching  learning  trains  amtrak  ferry  boats  offcampustrips  tcsnmy  mts  fieldtrips 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Six Steps to Speeding up Trains in the U.S. | Autopia from
"Eliminate redundant stops, introduce skip stop trains. Implement reserved seating plan. Eliminate grade level crossings to accommodate faster trains. Use lighter, swifter trains Advertise about faster service. Designate important, heavily used corridors
amtrak  europe  trains  transportation  travel 
february 2008 by robertogreco
The Washington Post Writers Group - Has Amtrak's Time Come?
"Are the stars finally coming into alignment for an American passenger-rail system that's even mildly comparable to 21st century world standards?"
transportation  trains  us  amtrak 
december 2007 by robertogreco

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