Photo from http://www.archives.gov.on.ca/
I should have known better than to call attention to the failing state of California’s intercity passenger railroad system and then attempt to ride a train to work today.
I rode my bicycle to the station, heard the announcement that the Capitol Corridor Amtrak was going to be 20 minutes past its normal 7:55 departure, and decided to go get breakfast. When I came back, my eyes played a trick on me.
I looked up at the message board and saw that the departure had changed to 8:26. Only I saw what I wanted to see, and not the actual predicted time of 9:26 a.m. I have to credit the Capitol Corridor with reporting how bad the delay would be, because it made it very easy to get back on the bike and pedal back home to get into the Civic and start driving 67 miles to work.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since I told my insurance agent how I would no longer need to pay those high premiums for driving a gazillion miles every year. I’m a bona fide transit person now.
Ha! Since making that statement, and shaving $190 off my annual premiums, I’ve racked up nearly 600 miles during the month of July alone. That’s still better than the 35,000 miles a year I’d do if I drove every day, but I may need to readjust my policy — again.
Later, I spoke to fellow traveler Alan Miller, director of Train Riders Association of California, which made the grim assessment about Amtrak’s Seattle-to-LA Coast Starlight I mentioned in yesterday’s post.
He showed me how to find out when my train actually left. Turns out it was a mere hour and 10 minutes late, meaning I got to work by the time it was chugging out of Fairfield.
“We wanted to say that these trains are valid modes of transportation that the goverment hasn’t taken seriously,” Miller said of TRAC’s warning about the Starlight, which runs on the same tracks as the Capitol Corridor and suffers from the same delays due to freight traffic.
Luckily, the Corridor is doing pretty well, racking up annual ridership increases and in the process of finishing up construction on extra track along Union Pacific’s tracks between Oakland and San Jose.
That kind of investment — almost unheard of on Amtrak’s interstate routes — can go a long way toward making rail service a mode of travel, rather than just a comfortable way to observe scenery.