Skip to comments.Why don't Americans ride trains?
Posted on 05/09/2014 9:49:39 PM PDT by Cronos
AMERICA has by far the largest rail network in the world, with more than twice as much track as China. But it lags far behind other first-world countries in ridership. Instead of passengers, most of America's massive rail network is used to carry freight. Why don't Americans ride trains?
..the Japanese, the Swiss, the French, the Danes, the Russians, the Austrians, the Ukrainians, the Belarussians and the Belgians all accounted for more than 1,000 passenger-kilometres by rail in 2011; Americans accounted for 80. Amtrak carries 31m passengers per year. Mozambique's railways carried 108m passengers in 2011.
There are many reasons why Americans don't ride the rails as often as their European cousins. Most obviously, America is bigger than most European countries. Outside the northeast corridor, the central Texas megalopolis, California and the eastern Midwest, density is sometimes too low to support intercity train travel. Underinvestment, and a preference for shiny new visions over boring upgrades, has not helped. Most American passenger trains travel on tracks that are owned by freight companies. That means most trains have to defer to freight services, leading to lengthy delays that scare off passengers who want to arrive on time.
(Excerpt) Read more at economist.com ...
From the comments section
If I take a train from Dublin to Galway, I have within 20 minutes' walk of either terminus hundreds of bars, restaurants, offices, and other attractions at my disposal. If I take a train from say, Orange County to Phoenix, I have within 20 minutes' walk about 5 freeway overpasses and lots of parking lots.and
Most of the US is a suburban hellscape, with anything worth doing at least 20 minutes' drive away. This is largely the result of ridiculous parking minimums (forcing business owners to subsidize private automobile storage) and NIMBYs fighting denser development because of parking concerns (forcing the government - i.e. all of us, to subsidize private automobile storage). The true irony of this is that it doesn't even ease traffic; people spend most of their time driving not through interesting things but.. automobile infrastructure (after all about 70% of LA's surface area is pavement or buildings dedicated to automobiles).
Most American cities are laid out differently than in Europe (other than older cities in the NE corridor). They are sprawling and spread out. Suburban areas have houses with huge lots. Stores are massive, like Walmart, and have huge parking lots. This makes mass transport within cities impractical. Mass transport only works in places with high population density. Therefore, people might we willing to take a train between nearby cities, like Dallas and Houston or LA and SF, but once they get to their destination, they'd have no way to get anywhere without a car. Alternatives could be taxi (expensive if you have more than a few limited destinations), shared ride van (slow), and car rental (again, rather expensive). Plus the train station itself may be far from your true destination within the city (driving across LA can take hours).
This is why trains are not practical in most US cities for most travelers.
Free travel is the ideal. Anything less is subject to getting there on time via a vehicle.
Too expensive, too slow, too remote.
Willie Green Memorial Ping.
Because Hitler loved Trains. Next question.
Because they tell you where you can go, and when you can go there. DONE!
Thanks to Washington DC.
Even freight trains hauled by steam locos used to be faster than the freights running today.
So do airlines. And the “Hound”.
Heh. Now that’s someone who really hated trains, in fact. That’s why he built the Reichsautobahn.
Trains don’t go where my dog and I want to go.
The only reason we fly is because we cannot drive there on our own terms. Flying sucks, in case you didn’t notice, and riding the bus is the ultimate in suck. All sorts of awful delays, and dealing with .... folk.
Another factor- driving in cars makes Americans less susceptible to terrorist attack AND Government control. When you can control the transit, the Government has its people in convenient, tight little boxes which can be coerced and/or terrorized. THIS is why Obama, Democrats, and other anti-American far-left extremist radical groups keep pushin for Public transportation.
Well, in the OLDEN DAYS, driving a car represented independence, freedom, romance, status, and well deserved white privilege, black privilege, Italian privilege, and any other ethnicity who worked hard in the American system and earned it. Trains are cool...but we used to be ‘exceptional’.
Because I can get in my car when I want to and go places that trains can’t. I’m on my own schedule, that is the American way.
In Germany and Italy all the major cities are within two hours train time or less from another major city, and every city has a compact downtown with a centrally located train station and available public transportation.
if I want to go to Atlantic city, the trains are twice as long as driving because there's no direct route -- you have to go through Philadelphia.
I certainly did notice.
A true pity that the federal government shut the free market out of the highway and commercial aviation business, too. Things could have been a lot more interesting and versatile. (Ultralight helicopter taking off from your driveway?)
I would ride the train everywhere if there was a car waiting for me when I got there.
Because we don’t have to.