A Little of This and a Little of That

High time to do something about being on time

Everyone who has taken any of Amtrak’s long-distance trains is aware that late arrivals are a big problem. Everywhere except in the Northeast Corridor (Washington-Boston), Amtrak trains run on track owned by the various freight railroads. In theory (and, indeed, according to law), the freight railroads are supposed to give priority to Amtrak trains. Sometimes they do, but often they do not. In my personal traveling experience, the principal offender has been Union Pacific. Apparently, Amtrak feels the same way because the company has asked for arbitration to deal with its disputes with UP over this subject. Here’s a link to the Chicago Tribune story.

Amtrak rail passes are now available

Rail passes are offered by most of the national railroads around the world and traditionally they may only be purchased by people living outside that particular country. The object is to encourage foreign travelers and, of course, foreign money.

Amtrak has long offered such passes but now, for the first time, they’re available for purchase by Americans in this country. Passes are for 15, 30 and 45 days of travel for $389, $579 and $749 respectively. Go here for details. A word of caution: Rail passes, either here or abroad, are not always the cheapest way to go.

Another plus for our local airline

This item should have been posted some weeks ago, but here it is anyway: In August the nation’s airlines posted an on-time arrival rate of 78 percent. The airline with the best on-time performance was Hawaiian Airlines, which scored 92 percent. Once again, let me recommend Hawaiian for flights to or from these islands from quite a few cities on the western part of the U.S. … Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, Oakland, Phoenix Portland, Las Vegas, Sacramento and San Jose. They also fly to Sydney, Manila, Samoa and Tahiti.

Some perspective on federal funding of transportation

Matt Melzer, Communications Director for NARP, the National Association of Railroad Passengers, dropped an interesting – not to mention revealing – tidbit in an article that ran recently in a New Jersey newspaper. Matt pointed out that Amtrak has received less funding from the federal government over the past 30 years than the $41.8 billion the feds are spending on highways this year alone.

Strikes me that the the next president’s first priority should be a review of all priorities!