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March 18, 2007

More Amtrak Bashing

by mike

I’ve beaten up on Amtrak a bit before. This time I’ll just let Reason’s Peter Bagge do it for me, with cartoons! It’s from 2005, but it’s still pretty darn good.

h/t: Chap

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8 Comments

  1. I know I’m going to get beat up for this. And let me say right off, I am in favor of privatizing Amtrak.

    But, there is a tiny National Security argument for keeping Amtrak.

    If we experience another 9/11 and all flights are cancelled for a few days or even weeks, we’d be left with just buses and cars for travel, if Amtrak does not exist.

    I’ve tried to come up with a counter-argument in my own mind on this, but have not been able to find a solution.

    Can someone please help?

    How can we preserve national rail travel for emergencies if we abolish Amtrak?

    Comment by Eric Dondero — March 19, 2007 @ 9:45 am
  2. Eric, I’ll explain how a libertarian would do it.;)

    First, I would found a charity. I would then publicize the problem and try to get people to donate money for my charity’s operations. I would purchase a railway depot and thousands of passenger-cars. I would hire maintenance people to take care of the mothballed equipment. I would set up contracts with railroad companies so that I can rent the locomotives when needed.

    Of course, if the federal government had not been meddling in airline security, the 9/11 shutdown would not have occurred (hell I question if 9/11 would have even occurred). So I think the whole idea is a wasted academic exercise. The simple thing to do is to get the Federal Government out of critical aspects of our society, like the provision of security and defense. They are too important to be trusted to socialist organizations and should be left to the more reliable free-market.

    Comment by tarran — March 19, 2007 @ 10:26 am
  3. That problem was already addressed in the comic. Even post 9/11, for every one person that rides Amtrak, 500 people ride a bus. If the flights are cancelled, the country will get along just fine using cars and buses for inter-city travel outside of the Northeast Corridor. So I guess the answer is that we don’t preserve national rail travel for emergencies because we really don’t need it.

    Comment by mike — March 19, 2007 @ 10:27 am
  4. I guess we are too liberal for any one to care about the northeast.

    Comment by VRB — March 19, 2007 @ 12:05 pm
  5. But, there is a tiny National Security argument for keeping Amtrak.

    No there isn’t.

    If we experience another 9/11 and all flights are cancelled for a few days or even weeks, we’d be left with just buses and cars for travel, if Amtrak does not exist.

    And your point is…..

    I can still travel on the highways and roads. Also, depending on what part of the country I’m in, I can use the waterways for transport as well.

    How can we preserve national rail travel for emergencies if we abolish Amtrak?

    Simple. The only emergency that I remotely foresee involving rail travel is that the military may need to move troops and supplies to various parts of the country. The military can contract with the private owners of the railroads and use railcars owned by the private sector and/or purchase their own railcars for their own use.

    Comment by Kevin — March 19, 2007 @ 12:16 pm
  6. The simple thing to do is to get the Federal Government out of critical aspects of our society, like the provision of security and defense. They are too important to be trusted to socialist organizations and should be left to the more reliable free-market.

    Because mercenaries are that much more loyal and reliable than an all volunteer military that is employed by the state, right?

    Comment by Kevin — March 19, 2007 @ 12:20 pm
  7. I guess we are too liberal for any one to care about the northeast.

    VRB,

    That rail line in the northeast is about the only one that manages to make money and get utilized. If it were privatized, it would likely continue to operate.

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 19, 2007 @ 12:46 pm
  8. we’d be left with just buses and cars for travel, if Amtrak does not exist.

    What’s the harm in that? I looked things up a while back for trips from Atlanta to Chicago. You know, the biggest city in the Southeast and the biggest city in the Midwest?

    As a quick test, I looked up train fare from Atlanta to Chicago. Since I regularly travel there to see family, I wanted to see how it compared to airfare. Well, Amtrak doesn’t run a direct route between the two. So a round-trip ticket cost about $380, with a stop each way in Washington, DC. And due to the extra time of those trips, the total travel time was about 30 hours each way.

    Compare that to an airline flight. The same trip, by air, costs about $200 and takes about 2 hours each way. Hell, to get to Chicago is only about a 11-12 hour DRIVE, and wouldn’t cost more than about $100 in gas each way. I even checked Greyhound, and it was about a 15-hour trip, at a cost of $130 round-trip.

    Okay, so if I want to go round-trip on Amtrak, it’s $380 and takes 30 hours each way (assuming they can actually get there on time). Greyhound is a third of the cost and takes half the time.

    And we should prefer rail to buses why?

    Comment by Brad Warbiany — March 19, 2007 @ 1:02 pm

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