The American rail dream half two | Indiana statesman
Train timetables, like prices, are determined by demand for a particular route.
If there is large and constant demand throughout the day, the train is more likely to run several times a day as long as it is profitable.
It is evident across America that there is not enough demand to warrant more trains.
For example, the Amtrak line from Detroit to Chicago only runs once on Saturdays and Sundays.
Two populous regions within reasonable train distances cannot even get enough demand to run the train every day of the week, let alone several times a day.
This is not an isolated incident. There’s just not enough train travel demand to compete with low-cost airlines or a car culture that normalizes five-hour journeys.
If existing lines cannot be used profitably, it does not make sense to expand them.
Even one of the busiest and fastest Amtrak routes – DC to Boston – is slower, more expensive, and less frequent than flying.
Frequency is also not an issue for driving. You can leave at any time during the journey and are not bound by timetables.
There’s no need to worry about missing the last train home and not having to plan your day around a set arrival and departure time.
Auto culture is deeply rooted in the American lifestyle. The feeling of freedom of driving down an open road, stopping to see beautiful landscapes, and dining with small townspeople along the way.
A large percentage of America loves this type of transportation and would even prefer it to rail or flying. Because of this, about a third of Americans go on road trips every year.
Cars are also helpful when traveling long-distance as travelers are not affected by the last mile problem. The last mile problem is the final leg of transportation from the transportation hub to the final destination.
This can include numerous modes of transportation such as bus, subway, Uber, or walking from the train station to your final destination.
The attraction of the car is that you can drive straight to your destination. There are no multiple stages of your trip, no stopovers, and no worrying about the last mile.
The problem with American cities is that very few have adequate public transportation to easily solve the last mile problem.
Cities like New York and DC are known for their public transportation and for being very walkable cities. However, these are the exceptions. Most cities have terrible public transportation systems that limit their accessibility.
A major factor in making this problem worse is the suburbanization of American cities.
To make intercity transit more profitable in America, cities must first focus on their own urban transit, via light rail, bus, or just plain walkable.
This is moving into a whole new topic of suburbanization that is incredibly interesting, and I propose to investigate that as well.
After all, it comes down to the privacy and safety of driving.
Many people like the isolation of being alone in their own car. They can sing to their own music or have private conversations without disturbing those around them.
Motorists don’t have to worry about being mugged and women in particular don’t need to worry about harassment, which is a common problem in train-oriented countries like Japan.
There are also the undesirable ones that come with cheap public transport. People like the smelly homeless man yelling at random people and the handy people mentioned earlier.
The problems of the public are completely avoided in your personal transportation, which makes traveling by car attractive to so many.
I like Rail and have been reading about it for years. This knowledge that I have gathered tells me that it is not the right time to push for a nationwide network.
America’s lack of public transport has led to the ideology of “grass is always greener on the other hand” idolizing high-speed rail.
Many people have a simple thought, “It would be nice to have trains,” but they have never thought deeply about fully implementing and using the network.
There may be a time when America is ready for rail – when there are more people, faster and cheaper train technology, and better urban transit in big cities.
Until then, it is better to repair our roads and invest in urban transport in order to move into a rail future.