Lifetime pass for seniors for Amtrak

Some friends sent me an emails about the idea of a $1,000 lifetime pass for seniors on Amtrak, similar to this one

Modern trains are very efficient movers. They can typically move a ton of cargo about 430 miles on a gallon of fuel. Not only saving the environment, but also saving you money! But, the USA is way behind in train technology and especially public transportation. Detroit has convinced America that they need to have at least one car per person and more would be nice.

My own opinion is that I am all for dramatically better public transportation in America. It is my opinion that most Americans are brainwashed into the idea that that they have to have a car(s). This is only because they’ve never seen good public transportation. Few cities in America have even mediocre public transportation. The places that we visited in Europe so far, have far better public transportation, yet even it is far from perfect.

When I lived in the Seattle area, friends that worked with the Seattle bus company, said that it was difficult to get a good system going. It is expensive to initially install, and obviously in the beginning stages is not going to be very good. So, you’re in a Catch-22. You cannot get riders without a good system. You cannot get a good system without money, especially start up an infrastructure money in the beginning. You cannot get money without riders.

So is one of those, “You can’t get there from here.” Kind of problems.

So, I suggest that the people, like myself, that have enjoyed the convenience, low-cost, and freedom of a reasonable public transportation system, spread the word.

I inherited my mom’s car for little over a year recently. Janet inherited her dad’s car and we used it for a couple of years I think. But, only because we were in areas that did not have good public transportation. Other than that Janet had not owned a car since 1977 and I had not owned one since 1981. If you’ve never had a good alternative, this is going to seem like I am asking you to suffer. But, if you’ve been where you can easily jump onto public transportation that takes you very close to where you want at very close to the time you want, and is amazingly cheap. If then you compare that with the cost of owning and operating an automobile. Initial cost, maintenance, fuel, insurance, parking, the dangers of damage to your vehicle, even when it’s parked. Those costs add up to quite a bit if you’ll just sit down and honestly tally them up. I am assuming that most people never do that. They just think that having a car is what you have to do. It is certainly more convenient than not having any way to get anywhere. But, I think it only looks good because you have not seen any alternative. And frankly, I think that there is a conspiracy to dampen any movement towards public transportation in America. Huge sums of money are being siphoned out of our pockets by gigantic industries and they don’t want that to stop. Quite understandable.

In Lisbon, overnight parking for the typical automobile, which is quite small, cost much more than our hotel room. Fuel costs a great deal more than in the US. But, they have pretty good public transportation, so it makes it easy to decide. Unfortunately, in the USA is also easy to decide in most cities, because you don’t have a choice. I’ve not been to Los Angeles since 1981, but when I was there at that time to go to two stores, in slightly different directions, each about 5 miles away, took all day, and was not cheap. We were using public transportation, and I can understand why people think it sucks.

This is a large and complicated problem, and we are not going to solve it here. What I ask is that each of you, honestly, figure out how much money you can save if you did not own any powered vehicles. Be sure to do a proper job of calculating total cost of ownership. When you really start thinking about it you will discover that there are all sorts of hidden costs.

Once you understand how much you’re really paying for the convenience and pleasure of owning them, then imagine what if you could do all the things that you want to do quite easily at 10 or 20% of that expense? See if that idea has any appeal to you.




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