Saving High Speed Rail

If you are always on the go, yet like to connect with people the old fashioned way, trains offer serendipity through communal dining spaces. I’ve had cool experiences on trains across Japan, India, Canada, and Europe while making a few friends along the way. Even in the US — with its government-subsidized Amtrak service — passengers can mingle on a dining car, especially when WiFi breaks down and cell phone coverage is spotty.

A long time ago Amtrak was branché and offered better food for the adventurous. Today, the food is going away and the customer experience is hardly better than a Greyhound bus. And it’s about to get worse.

There may be more pressing issues to fight for, but here’s a cause which really reflects on the poor state of public transportation in America. As Amtrak reduces its basic offerings, more communities lose out on the likelihood of high-speed rail proposals getting the funding they need. Amtrak’s poor financial record and declining service levels provide a terrible case study. Yet, the Japanese success story shows that high-speed rail can solve many issues including affordable housing when one can live in distant suburbs and reach a major metro in 30 minutes or less.

Amtrak says it’s a millennial cultural issue, but it’s much more than that. Amtrak never stood a chance for success. An incredibly slow train with limited dining won’t increase Amtrak’s ridership.

High-speed trains are doing just fine in the rest of the world. I wouldn’t need a car if I lived anywhere else. The air would be better, too. This is why Amtrak needs to hold onto the dining car if it wants to survive.

If you have time, sign this petition: