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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Transportation Joys

I refuse to fly. People complain about the TSA, but keep putting up with them. If more people boycotted air travel maybe something would change. Do what you want, but I've made my choice.

Unfortunately, that pretty much guarantees I can't use public transportation to travel long distances. Train service is a joke. It still exists, but with limited routes and high prices.

At one time it was possible to take a bus just about anywhere in the country. It might not be the fastest way to get from one town to another, but it could be done. The price wasn't too bad either. Bus service is a shadow of its former self. Cheap air travel is said to have killed buses.

My dad doesn't exactly live out in the sticks. There's something like 200,000 people in his county. While not exactly New York City, it's a far cry from the 1,200 people in my home town. The sad thing is that it's not possible to get out of there using public transportation. A local bus service exists, but it doesn't connect to anything.

The only option is to drive one's own car, or to drive a rental car. That's pretty much the situation in a good part of the country. While a rental is an option it requires a driver's license and a credit card. No license? Bad credit?

Walk peasant.

While it's possible to live in a big city and not have a car, the rest of the country is out of luck -unless they want to get manhandled by the TSA.



  1. Remember the 'VIPER" teams?

    TSA is all over the rail roads too.

    I can remember riding the bus all over the damn place when I was a kid, alone, hundreds of miles from home.

    Even as an adult I used to ride Greyhound.
    Sadly they are all but defunct around here anymore.
    The whole coast of Oregon is without their service anymore and has been for 15 years now.

    I rode Amtrak from San Jose to Portland once. It's like a bastard hybrid between a bus and a plane. You can get up and walk around but the damn thing rocks back and forth and bumps up and down. It throws ya all over.

    Don't even get me started on not being able to smoke on 'em anymore.

    1. Our public transportation sector disappeared and hardly anyone noticed.

      Leave it to the TSA to screw up rail travel too.

  2. Big oil owns America.We drove a electric car on moon in 1971.Europe is not owned by big oil.Look at there transportation fabulous. Politicians owned.They fly, shoffered, There political elections paid by Big Oil so no outsider can run for office . fixed . transportation screwed.

    1. Will the system have to be completely broken before people wake up and fix it?

  3. Europe's fantastic train system is paid for by swinging taxes that would make your hemmoroids shrivel! Spain is a classic example, billions spent, new glitzy stations and a people so broke they are pouring into the UK like Noahs flood is chasing them. I live in the middle of Wales in the middle of nowhere. My local dental practice has three dentists. One is Welsh, one Spanish( very beautiful, the guys are queuing up for her) and one greek. They are very freindly but the picture they paint of their countries predicament is woeful. The spend spend days are over and even basic maintenance is now being ignored!

    1. Looks like the collapse grinds on all over the world.

  4. I can no longer fly due to medical issues, so am planning a transcontinental train trip to see my aged parents in Boston - I shall be very curious about how rail travel compares to current TSA airport horrors. (Yes the cost is high, but if air travel was not subsidised it would be equally high) Most folks think I have lost my mind to choose to travel this way, and I realise that I am fortunate to happen to live in a city with Amtrak service that I can access. I figure that it will be an adventure, and I plan to do it sooner rather than later as infrastructure neglect is the thing I worry about.

    As far as public transit goes, I tried once to figure out if it was possible to get from Portland to Olympia not on Amtrak or by car. It is a two hour trip by car or train, on local bus transit it is theoretically possible in a day and a half, if you include an extra day detour out to the coast and back to fill in a gap. I also tried taking local bus transit between Olympia and Seattle, which is more doable and takes about four hours to make what is a one hour trip by car...

    I realise that this is more access than most folks can even dream of, and I live in a major city on a major interstate highway, and even so, what takes three hours in a car takes two days on local transit. Fortunately for self, there are the other options of Greyhound, and my current favorite the Bolt Bus, which runs much cheaper than the big dog. Bus travel is a lot less comfortable than the train, Greyhound is more spendy than Amtrak, but Bolt is about half the cost...

    1. Enjoy your trip.

      You are lucky to have train service, and some bus service. What once was easy to do in this country is now impossible in most areas.

      Travel now. Who knows how bad it'll get in the future.

    2. alison,
      take food and water with you.
      if you get a suite you may not be able to sleep because of rough track or, in our case, the overhead bunk would not lock into position either up or down and bounced dangerously all night. i sat up all night to hold my small child in the lower bunk otherwise she would have fallen out.
      don't expect the stewards to do a single thing they are paid for and yet they want tips!!
      lazy and worthless.
      the waiting room in chicago is a nightmare. we went out in the main waiting room because it was so bad.
      the chicago eastbound train had piles of rat poop near the door, so the cleaning staff is obviously worthless, too.
      the steward on that train wouldn't give my child a pillow even though it was after 10 o'clock. we had to wait another hour at her pleasure.
      the windows were never washed so the vaunted view, one of their selling points, did not exist.
      et cetera, et cetera, ad nauseum.
      also the food was okay but the menu is repeated a little too often. some of it a bit heartburny
      the dining car staff were also rude.
      just a warning to pack lightly because the steward would rather die than lift anything.
      hope you meet nice people and have a good time.
      who knows? maybe it has improved but i vowed i'd never use amtrak again.

    3. alison,
      second thought. get your passport in order and go cross canada. their trains were lovely and everyone did his job. be warned--they don't use mayonnaise. even hot dogs will be buttered unless you stop them!!
      unless things have changed take some of those little mayo packets with you.

    4. I have heard good things about rail service in Canada, but my info is a bit dated. Not sure how things stand at this moment.

    5. dhj, I am sorry to hear how horrible your trip was... Well, as I already have my tickets, switching to Canada would be rather difficult, not to mention considerably more spendy!

      I was planning on packing only what I need for the 3+ days onboard; it didn't occur to me that someone might help me with my luggage, as that has never happened in any form of travel I have ever taken in my life. On the rare occasions that I travel, I often mail whatever other gear I need to my destination rather than carry it, and figured on doing this to simplify my journey. There is no realistic way to carry along enough water for 3+ days though, so I shall just have to cross my fingers that there will be bottled water available, there certainly is on the various west coast trains.

  5. The only way we would fly now if it was a life or death situation. We rarely travel anywhere now. The Marine doesn't travel well any longer. I think we are becoming hermits!

    1. It would take a life or death situation for me too.

  6. I used to enjoy riding the train, you got there slow but you got to walk around I enjoyed the time, a great place to take it easy and see the surrounding.

    Not anymore though - new rules and I don't see eye to eye.

    1. I shall be very curious to find out how this experience of traveling cross country by train will be, as far as both comfort and security issues... I do travel by train occasionally up or down the west coast and have not found any disturbing security issues or experiences recently, entirely unlike air travel. As my medical condition makes air travel very dangerous to my health, I hope to never have to fly again.