Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chris Matthews is Right about Fast Trains

I finally found something about Chris Matthews I can cheer about.  For the past few days, he's been urging the Federal government to embark on a campaign of getting interstate fast rail service all across America.  Matthews rightly points out that Europe has it, and the Chinese are constructing such service.   He also correctly notes that more people traveling on trains means fewer people traveling via gas-guzzling cars.

He's completely right.  I love driving, especially my Prius, which does save me money and time filling up at the pump.   But the Prius still uses some gasoline, and contributes to the US need for oil.  I feel the same about flying - it's magical.  But traveling by train is more fuel efficient, especially when we're talking about electrified rails.

Train travel is also the most relaxing, at least for me.   I can certainly get a lot more writing done on a train than as a driver (I wrote a good part of The Consciousness Plague on The Lake Shore, Ltd, from New York to Chicago), not to mention sleeping.   Although writing on planes is also easy, no conductor on a train has ever told me I have to shut off my computer, or any electronic device.

In the one part of the country where we do have fast rail service - the Acela, between Boston and Washington, DC and points in between - savvy people know it's best way to get from city to city, and these trains are slower than the ones in France, that is, slower than they could be here.

One of the appeals of the Obama ticket to me was Joe Biden, in particular Biden's devotion to Amtrak, which he long ago recognized as the most efficient means of traveling between Wilmington, DE and Washington, DC.    I hope the Obama administration and Congress take Chris Matthews' appeal to heart, and get America back to work and moving more efficiently, with reduced oil consumption, which can all be done in one master stroke: construction of a fast rail system across the United States of America.
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