Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

Grass Roots Syndrome

James Howard Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere, “Because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work.”

There is a magnificent essay online at Atlantic Free Press dealing with land use and urban sprawl. You need to read the entire thing, and it might even provide a few surprises. Kunstler writes about his hometown, Saratoga Springs, New York.

Now this town happens to be on a railroad line that connects New York City to Montreal. Before 1950, it was the main way that people came to this town. These days, we get one train a day in each direction. The trains are invariably late, and not just a little late, but hours late. The track bed is in miserable shape and, of course, Amtrak is a sort of soviet-style management organization. There is no awareness among the public here, or our leaders, that we would benefit from improving the passenger railroad service, and around the state of New York generally there is no conversation about fixing the railroads. (Governor Elliot Spitzer is preoccupied these days with arranging to give driver’s licenses to people who are in the country illegally.) We are going to pay a large penalty for these failures of attention.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

One Response

  1. Zane Katsikis says:

    Well, I’m from Ithaca, NY and can remember having passenger rail down through Pennsylvania to Hoboken. Now, though I’m no longer living in Ithaca, I return regularly. To get there by train from NYC, I need to go to Syracuse and then to Ithaca by bus. This trip (2 hours longer than the bus directly from NY Port Authority Terminal)is possible only if the Amtrak train that arrives in Syracuse from NYC at 4 PM isn’t more than an hour late because that is the only connection.

    Are we in the Finger Lakes better off transportation wise now than before? The answer is clear – no.

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October 2007


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