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When was your last ride on a train?

Response Percent Votes
It’s been more than five years.
40% 285
I’ve never taken a train ride.
24% 175
It’s been more than a year.
15% 112
Within the past three months.
9% 70
In the past year.
4% 33
In the past six months.
3% 27
Total 702


JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

From Wikipedia concerning AMTRAK:"Government aid to Amtrak was controversial from the beginning. The formation of Amtrak in 1971 was criticized as a bailout serving corporate rail interests and union railroaders, not the traveling public. Critics assert that Amtrak has proven incapable of operating as a business and that it does not provide valuable transportation services meriting public support, a "mobile money-burning machine." They argue that subsidies should be ended, national rail service terminated, and the Northeast Corridor turned over to private interests. "To fund a Nostalgia Limited is not in the public interest." Critics also question Amtrak's energy efficiency, though the U.S. Department of Energy considers Amtrak among the most energy-efficient forms of transportation"Proponents point out that the government heavily subsidizes the Interstate Highway System, the Federal Aviation Administration, many airports, among many aspects of passenger aviation. Massive government aid to those forms of travel was a primary factor in the decline of passenger service on privately owned railroads in the 1950s and 60s. In addition, Amtrak pays property taxes (through fees to host railroads) that highway users do not pay. Advocates therefore assert that Amtrak should only be expected to be as self-sufficient as those competing modes of transit."Along these lines, in a June 12, 2008 interview with Reuters, current Amtrak President Alex Kummant made specific observations: $10 billion per year is transferred from the general fund to the Highway Trust Fund; $2.7 billion is granted to the FAA; $8 billion goes to "security and life safety for cruise ships." Overall, Kummant claims that Amtrak receives $40 in federal funds per passenger, while highways are subsidized at a rate of $500$700 per automobile. Moreover, Amtrak provides all of its own security, while airport security is a separate federal subsidy. Kummant added: "Let's not even get into airport construction which is a miasma of state, federal and local tax breaks and tax refinancing and God knows what.""Critics, on the other hand, claim that gasoline taxes amount to use fees that entirely pay for the government subsidies to the highway system and aviation. In fact this is not true: gas taxes cover little if any of the costs for "local" highways and in many states little of the cost for state highways. They don't cover the property taxes foregone by building tax-exempt roads. They also don't cover policing costs: Amtrak, like all U.S. railroads, pays for its own security, the Amtrak Police; road policing and the Transportation Security Administration are paid for out of general taxation.

canyon_wren 9 years, 9 months ago

One nice thing about a compartment (and terrapin is right--it is cheaper to secure one, once on board, if one is available) is that you get your meals with it--anything you want to order, except for the alcoholic beverages. Most all the food is quite good, with several selections for each meal. It is really a nice experience to sleep on the train while you are gliding along.I took a great trip several years ago, leaving from Green River, UT, going to Naperville, IL. I got a ride up to southern Minnesota and then caught the train at Winona and went all the way across N. Dakota, Montana, Idaho, eastern Washington (all this was a part of the country I had never been to before) and down to Portland, where I caught another train to Salinas, CA. My visit out there ended at Reno, where I caught the Zephyr back to Green River. I had a "Economy Bedroom" all the way, and it was REALLY a delightful trip.I had copied pages (enlarged areas) from an Atlas, of the entire route I was taking and was the envy of everyone in the Dome Car! If you take a long train trip, be sure to take an atlas--it makes it so much more interesting.Regardless of the cost, everyone should try it while we still can.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

Standard AMTRAK locomotives are capable of 110 mph if the track is good enough. Super high speed rail would be nice, but much more expensive. Kansas City to Chicago is pretty good: leave KC 800am, arrive Chicago 3pm, although a lot of the time there are delays in the Chicago freight yards.If AMTRAK had all new welded rails crosscountry with no freight traffic, travel times could be pretty reasonable. Better than bus or car, but not as fast as air. Trains are much safer than driving by car, though, and you can sleep and eat on the train, saving time.

Bobo Fleming 9 years, 9 months ago

KC to Chicago last year. Was great. Cheaper than flying and quicker if you consider time getting the the airport, arriving early, waiting for the luggege ect.

jayharchitect 9 years, 9 months ago

If the subway counts, then this morning.

terrapin2 9 years, 9 months ago

We took the Southwest Chief from Lawrence to Santa Fe, NM for our 15th wedding anniversary and had an absolutely wonderful experience! It was exciting getting on the train in the middle of the night, and it works out well that you are traveling through western Kansas at night and then wake up to see the Rockies as you enter into Colorado, and then on into New Mexico!And we would definitely recommend upgrading to a private compartment AFTER you get on board. This will save you hundreds of dollars, and give you the privacy of a (very compact) car. It may not always be cheaper than flying, and it certainly takes a lot longer, but I'd opt for the low-stress train travel over the over-crowded up-tight high-stress air travel any day!

Kat Christian 9 years, 9 months ago

I would take the train more often if it were available. It would be nice to have a train station here to take a train back east and not have to drive all the way to KC.

canyon_wren 9 years, 9 months ago

I take the train a lot, mostly to CA. It is really too bad that the Union Pacific no longer has a passenger train across Kansas. To get from southeastern Utah to Lawrence, I either have to ride the train from Green River, UT to Omaha and find a way down, or drive about 350 miles south to Flagstaff and catch the Chief. I guess that still stops in Lawrence. Even with the delays, it is such a great way to travel. If at all possible, I strongly suggest that families find SOME way to see that their children have a chance to experience this before the opportunity is totally gone.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 9 months ago

Ditto on the security nonsense.A fun train ride from Philadelphia to KCMO last November.In 1980 we traveled by thumb, bicycle,train and public transportation for 5 months in the USA while doing a honeymoon. Believe me learning to travel without a car was quite interesting. We left Tulsa on our bicycles heading to California. Camping,Youth Hostels and motels every now and then provided a friendly experience.

OnlyTheOne 9 years, 9 months ago

I just checked prices and I could fly to the west coast for about the same price as riding a train. It's nice to look out at the scenery but not that nice!

redwaggoner 9 years, 9 months ago

The first time I rode a train was from lawrence to Topeka as a child. As I remember we went to see the Capitol building. Then at 19 I rode a train from KC to San Antonio, Tx as an Air Force recruit/enlisteeGod! Has it been over forty-five years already?

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

"David L. Gunn, was direct in response to congressional criticism. In a departure from his predecessors' promises to make Amtrak self-sufficient in the short term, Gunn argued that no form of passenger transportation in the United States is self-sufficient as the economy is currently structured.Highways, airports, and air traffic control all require large government expenditures to build and operate, coming from the Highway Trust Fund and Aviation Trust Fund paid for by user fees, highway fuel and road taxes, and, in the case of the General Fund, by people who own cars and do not."Before a congressional hearing, Gunn answered a demand by leading Amtrak critic Arizona Senator John McCain to eliminate all operating subsidies by asking the Senator if he would also demand the same of the commuter airlines, upon whom the citizens of Arizona are dependent. McCain, usually not at a loss for words when debating Amtrak funding, did not reply

GSWtotheheart 9 years, 9 months ago

Do you count the train that goes through Silver Dollar City???

Steve Mechels 9 years, 9 months ago

For those of you who have never ridden a train, go do it, even if it is only a short trip. Far more comfortable than air travel although it takes longer. I have always enjoyed using the trains in Europe, and yes I have used Amtrak here a couple of times. The advantage in Europe is the trains run more routes and are faster.I still think that one our countries greatest mistakes was allowing our rail system to fall apart. Cheap gas in the late 50's and 60s led to the demise and now we are paying the cost.I would use the train more often, but with only one train a day it is not practical. If you want a challenge, try to make a trip via Amtrak from Lawrence to Portland, OR. You have to go to Chicago or LA first.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

I just checked prices for a trip KC-LA on a Tues in OCT and found $137 for AMTRAK vs. $197 on United (with fees and taxes).Airlines are charging for everything they can think of to boost revenues to help offset oil prices. Amtrak allows (2) 50lbs Carry on bags + (3) 50lbs checked bags per passenger with no extra charge. Thats 250lbs total for free, if you need it.THey also allow bicycles, baby buggies and a number of other things within reason as long as they have the space.The trains average about the speed of automobile travel (due to freight train obstructions) but as they travel at night you get to your destination quicker than by car.Train travel isn't right for every situation, but there are some real advantages.One of the biggest disadvantages is the lack of trains, there is only 1 per day thru Lawrence each direction (East and West).

Laura Wilson 9 years, 9 months ago

It just takes so long in this country. I haven't ridden a train in this country since around 1970 to Topeka, but I ride them a lot in England. For one, it's a lot cheaper to take a train from the airport than a taxi and a lot more comfortable than the tube or a bus.

Alexander Neighbors 9 years, 9 months ago

well if you can get a student advantage card that will save you 15% off the fare and if you book 1 month in advance you can find really really cheep tickets. I love the fact you have privacy on the train you aint gotta take your shoes off or go through a million security check points.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

The problem with national train travel stems from the way railroads developed. They were all regional. To take a trip across country you had to co-ordinate and book with several different carriers. By the time AMTRAK, the first national railroad,was organized in 1971, airlines and hiway travel had taken the lead and rail had deteriorated so much they couldn't compete. Trains are very big business in this day of high oil prices, but freight trains own the rails (Reagen's Amtrak appointee sold the tracks in the 80's to make their bottom line look good) and passenger trains get delayed and 'sidetracked' to let the coal trains go by (at 40 mph.)Today we have a 'chicken or egg' situation with rail service. Nobody wants to use it because of the delays and limited schedules and destinations. Amtrak can't improve the rails or service because of lack of funds.

jumpin_catfish 9 years, 9 months ago

40 years ago at the age of 15 I rode to Chicago to visit family. It was and is a high point in my life because I met a beautiful girl and fell instantly in love and never saw her again. What a trip!! I love trains.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

Even outside of the Northeast, AMTRAK is doing well:CALIFORNIA July 3-Corridor ridership smashes records!Coast Starlight overnight ridership UP!Report and Comments provided by Eugene K. Skoropowski"Whatever records on ridership and revenue that existed before July 2008 can be considered "smashed" by the July statistics. Major growth happened all across California, and the Capitol Corridor and San Joaquins both grew at a startling 32+% in riders, and the San Joaquins broke 100,000 for the first time ever in a single month. The Pacific Surfliners carried more passengers than Amtrak's premier Northeast Corridor "Acela Express" for the third consecutive month."San Joaquins (July 2008):"100,564 passengers +32.1% vs. 2007, now fifth busiest in the nation (overtaking New York State's Empire Corridor Service)$3,444,847 revenue +47.5% vs. 2007 (10 months YTD: +18.3%)

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

Also in California:Pacific Surfliners (July 2008):301,374 passengers +12.3% vs. 2007, still the second busiest route in the nation, by a wide marginPassengers for 10 months YTD: 2,369,792 (10 months YTD: +7.3%)As noted above, this is more monthly passengers than the Acela Express on the Northeast Corridor, for the 3rd consecutive month$6,002,911 revenue +18.1% vs. 2007 (10 months YTD: +9.1%)

Tom McCune 9 years, 9 months ago

A few points of information about Amtrak:1. It is not wholly-owned by the United States. It is a corporation whose stock is held partly by the United States and partly by the following:American Premier Underwriters (insurance sub. of Am. Financial Group) 53 %Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad 35 %Canadian Pacific Railroad 7%Canadian National Railroad 5%2. Amtrak has never owned significant right-of-way or track. It has always run over rights-of-way held by other railroads.3. Amtrak could probably get close to breaking even if it was allowed to run only the Northeast corridor. (Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, DC.) Congress has never allowed Amtrak to reduce its routes to the Northeast corridor.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, they can make a profit on routes in the Northeast, they still own a chunk of that:(from Wikipedia ):"Along the Northeast Corridor and in several other areas, Amtrak owns 730 route-miles of track (1175 km), including 17 tunnels consisting of 29.7 miles (47.8 km) of track, and 1,186 bridges (including the famous Hell Gate Bridge) consisting of 42.5 miles (68.4 km) of track."If they had good routes for the rest of the country they'd do well nationwide, too. But what we get here is overloaded freight lines.

notajayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

JerryStubbs (Anonymous) says: "If they had good routes for the rest of the country they'd do well nationwide, too. But what we get here is overloaded freight lines."Surely that was a jest? You seriously think that ridership from Lawrence to, say, Fort Worth - or anywhere else - would ever approach the levels of Boston to D.C.? Ridiculous comments like that make it difficult to take train advocates seriously.The Northeast corridor has what - 50 million people or more packed into it? In a heavily urbanized area where property values are prohibitively high for expanding almost any mode of transportation, where not only the roads but the air routes are saturated already? All centered on the country's largest city, a metro area with 20 million people where a substantial portion of the population does not own cars? There is no other place in the country where the demographics and logistics are the same as the Northeast - and those factors are what makes the Amtrak routes there profitable. It's nothing short of delusional to think that the same level of success could be reached elsewhere in the country.And it's just more of the old 'if we build it they will come' fantasy. Passenger rail used to have more routes to more cities with more frequent service. They died off because nobody was riding them. Just as in other times of uncertainty over gasoline, train ridership is enjoying a momentary blip (which still leaves it at a miniscule percentage of the American public's travel choice), and just like those other times, as the price of gas stabilizes, it will fall back off. And, as more and more personal vehicles hit the road with alternative fuels, as the range and practicality of electric vehicles increases (and the price decreases), then passenger rail might finally gasp out its last breath.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 9 months ago

"When was your last ride on a train?"My last ride? ( I'm not sure I've taken it, yet. )

notajayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

"the San Joaquins broke 100,000 for the first time ever in a single month"How many people took private cars along parallel routes during that month, Jer?"As noted above, this is more monthly passengers than the Acela Express on the Northeast Corridor, for the 3rd consecutive month"The Acela, as I have already said, is saturated. It has been full for a while and has no expansion capability. It is also not the only train carrying passengers along the Northeast corridor. You again compare apples to oranges - it's like saying there's more total traffic on K-10 than there are Accura Legends driving along 1-95 through NYC."$3,444,847 revenue +47.5% vs. 2007 (10 months YTD: +18.3%)""$6,002,911 revenue +18.1% vs. 2007 (10 months YTD: +9.1%)"Revenues.How about profits, Jer?

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

You don't need 50 million population to fill a 300 seat train. Can you prove that you need the same ridership of Boston to DC to make a profit?Amtrak ridership steadily increasing for the last 5 years straight, is that a blip? Do you really think everybody is going to feel gas is going to stablize in the future? By your logic you'd almost have to assume that gas will stabilze at a lower price, why would people now riding the train go back to driving if it stabilizes at a higher price?Unfortunately our train routes from Lawrence are very limited.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

Gee, even in a state where almost everybody owns a car.

notajayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

Also, Jerry old boy, what's the population density along those California routes compared to, say, the corridor from Fort Worth to Chicago, or Kansas City to Denver? How about the saturation level of the roads and air routes? Pretty comparable, are they?How's the ridership from Ok. City to Fort Worth? Lack of seats the problem, is it?

notajayhawk 9 years, 9 months ago

JerryStubbs (Anonymous) says: "Can you prove that you need the same ridership of Boston to DC to make a profit?"Just as soon as you prove "If they had good routes for the rest of the country they'd do well nationwide, too."It's pretty simple math. Let's say you double the ridership by doubling the number of trips - you also double the operating costs, which means you double the operating losses. Just to break even, you'd have to quadruple the ridership by doubling the routes - do you have any figures to supports any such possibility?You completely ignore the fact that it's not just the population density of the Northeast that makes those trains profitable. It's the fact that both the roads and the air routes are already saturated, making trains more of a necessity than a choice. (The train routes are saturated too, by the way, without the capability of expanding them any further either.) Neither the roads nor the air routes are anywhere near that saturation level in this part of the country.Yes, train ridership has been rising steadily. From nothing. From less than 1% of Americans' long distance travel choices. So a 20% increase brings it up to what, still less than 1.2%? Wow. That's almost half the market share that inter-city bus has.And the price of gas doesn't have to go down for people to abandon the trains again. It just has to stabilize at a level where people are willing to pay for it. People get better paying jobs, they cut back in other areas, or they just - and I know this is a far-out concept - start driving more fuel-efficient vehicles (which, incidentally, also has the effect of lowering fuel prices). The overwhelming majority of Americans have chosen the freedom and flexibility of personal vehicles over taking the train where and when Amtrak says they can go.Your entire argument - and that of similar passenger rail advocates - is based on the fantasy that 'if we build it, they will come.' To make it profitable, you'd have to double ridership with the current level of operations, or, as I said above, increase ridership twice as much as you increased operating levels. The miniscule increase in ridership, even in the face of doubling or tripling gas prices, simply does not support any realistic belief that this would happen.

compmd 9 years, 9 months ago

I've been on the Chief more times than I can count going east and west. Across stretches of Arizona and New Mexico, I pulled out my GPS and verified that we were doing 110mph, must have been some nice new rail. I love European trains, I just took a few recently, but the cost isn't as low as you might expect. About all I can say is that its usually cheaper than driving.

JerryStubbs 9 years, 9 months ago

Northeast Corridor profits are partly due to the fact that AMTRAK owns those tracks, and some are electrified, lowering operating costs.

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