Selling Big Ideas With Little Words.
Promoting the benefits of passenger trains is the mission of NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, and it ain’t easy.
There’s a huge amount of misinformation, ignorance and apathy out there, and it’s hard to overcome all that. Most people are just too busy to put in the time and effort to absorb the information, to understand all the implications, and to reach conclusions, especially if that means abandoning a previous conviction.
And that’s why it’s a mistake for those of us advocating more and better and faster trains to get bogged down in the minutia, lapsing into lengthy arguments about “rolling stock” and “passenger miles” and such.
The best way to present complicated ideas in a way that has an impact on public opinion is to reduce those ideas to simple, easy-to-understand “factoids”.
That’s what NARP is trying to do in its communication with the general public: get away from the scholarly essays on transportation doctrine and theory, and start letting people know in simple terms – bullet points, if you will – why passenger rail is important and why it should be expanded and improved. For instance …
* Amtrak carries three times as many people between New York and Washington as all the airlines combined.
* With one person per car, it would take a 16-lane highway to move the same number of people as a two-track railroad.
* West of the Mississippi River, 173 million Americans live within 25 miles of an Amtrak station.
* Amtrak removes 8 million cars from the highways and eliminates the need for 50,000 full-loaded airplanes.
NARP is producing a poster that’s full of interesting and colorful art and text that presents those and a lot of other facts about passenger trains and the benefits they bring to society as a whole as well as the traveling public.
I’m not sure when the poster will be available, but will report that when I do and let you know how to get one.