Wednesday, June 04, 2008

You Probably Already Realize That . . . . .

Rail ridership is way up, WAY up, due to fuel price increases. You may not realize how much higher it is, because for what ever reason, the MSM has not covered that story.

Here are some examples, according to a story from Mass Transit Magazine: Light Rail ridership in Baltimore is up 17%. Subway ridership in Boston is up 9%. The West Coast provides impressive numbers, too, with Seattle Commuter Rail ridership up 28%! More detail is in the article.

All four trains in this photo of CTA's Chicago Loop are probably full, too!

Progressive Railroading reports similar information, with South Florida Commuter Rail ridership up over 22%. Railway Age/Railway Track and Structures has an article with more figures, too.

Amtrak is doing well, too. An article from the Palm Beach Post details some of the thinking of new customers, and speaks to the good and bad for Amtrak's operation nationwide.

Amtrak is also more easily available to residents of many smaller towns in the USA, allowing them to avoid not only high gas prices but also the increasingly complex labyrinth associated with airline travel. Bottom line, the reasons are many to invest in all forms of rail passenger service.

The problem is that it takes time to get not only the facilities but also the rolling stock in place. Say that the price of fuel drops in the next few weeks or months. Suddenly, commuters will go back to their less fuel efficient ways. The result is that funding for rail passengers, which is so dependent on politics, seems less important. This country cannot afford to be that short sighted.

Rail Passenger service is not the only answer, but it is a mighty good one. Hopefully, those who control the money agree now, for the benefit of all of us no matter what price fluctuations occur.