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Screw Amtrak!!!

The Boston Globe reports today that Amtrak is cutting Acela fares in the Northeast by up to 25 percent. What they neglect to mention though is that the federally subsidized transcontinental crawler remains the most overpriced and organizationally offensive way to hop up and down the coastline.

No doubt I’m a broke complainer who has for years made it a priority to bitch about the cost of Amtrak; I only use it occasionally to make traveling uncomfortable for businesspeople who think riders should be on library behavior regardless of whether they’re in designated quiet cars.

But for a company that relies on federal funding, I find their practices to be indefensibly prejudicial. Considering how commuter trains between Boston and New York take less than one hour longer than Acela trips, the only real difference is the price tag. It’s simple segregation; those who have enough means don’t have to shoulder up with middle class barbarians.

The news in this morning’s Globe article is infuriating; only now that companies are cutting back has Amtrak lowered rates. Furthermore, they’re only dropping prices on Acela trains, which normal folks don’t use anyway (and which, as Senator John Kerry argues, are a huge rip-off since infrastructure is in such poor repair that trains only reach maximum speeds for a few miles.)

I suppose that when you’re limping with a governmental crutch there’s no use devising real solutions – especially when such solutions would mean that professionals might have to share rails with laptop-stealing paupers. I have a profitable idea they might want to consider though: have a $20 party train with a DJ every night; not only would it reach capacity regularly but the booze sales would be through the tin.

Recently I asked a friend in corporate real estate – who was sitting on a number of vacant properties – why his firm is so loathe to lower prices dramatically in order to fill spaces. Not surprisingly, he had no real answer for why it makes more sense to let a $1 million-a-month office sit empty for years on end than to let a business pay half that.

The same mentality prevails at Amtrak, where Northeast ridership dropped nearly 12 percent in the past year. Screw them; as those of us who couldn’t and still can’t afford such boutique services have known for years – we can take the Bolt, Fung Wah, Lucky Star, or Megabus back-and-forth half-a-dozen times for the price of one lousy round trip on the bourgeois iron horse.

  • Tim said:

    No screw you Chris Faraone! First off way to go with a completely irrelevant photo. Second Amtrak is a transportation option not the only way to travel, if you don't like it then do everyone a favor and stop having a tantrum and get to wherever you need to go by your own means. Third their are no commuter trains that link Boston to New York so get your facts straight and grow up.

    February 18, 2009 3:49 PM
  • Chris Faraone said:

    Hey Tim. Two points taken: 1 - You're right - I meant "regional" - not "commuter." And 2 - I absolutely have no right to bitch about how tax dollars are spent. I can't wait to grow up so I can ride the Amtrak with you and yours.

    February 18, 2009 4:56 PM
  • Tim said:

    Chris, I appreciate you admitting the mistake about the commuter/regional trains. Now back to the second issue, do you realize that their are airlines that fly half full daily from Boston to New York that use our tax dollars? Do you think of the highways we use and even pay tolls to drive on that use our tax dollars? The truth is Chris, I don't like how our tax dollars are spent either, but without Amtrak, airlines, highways, .... we wouldn't have a Boston or New York! If we lower fares on Amtrak, Amtrak would need more funding! If we get rid of Amtrak, highway traffic would backup and they would require more maintenance once again requiring more funding! You may not like like the way that our tax dollars are spent but i assure you, without Amtrak you would be paying the price in one way or another.

    February 18, 2009 9:01 PM
  • Boston Knucklehead said:

    I think part of the problem is this country ( for the most part) is run by baby boomers with big bushy mustaches and Filenes Basement suits that still have a hard time turning on their computer. Too much old school business practices lurking and they can't seem to get out of their own way to make anything significant happen.

    February 19, 2009 7:15 AM

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