The Boston Globe reports today that Amtrak
is cutting Acela fares in the Northeast by up to 25 percent. What they neglect
to mention though is that the federally subsidized transcontinental crawler remains
the most overpriced and organizationally offensive way to hop up and down the coastline.
No doubt I’m a
broke complainer who has for years made it a priority to bitch about the cost
of Amtrak; I only use it occasionally to make traveling uncomfortable for businesspeople
who think riders should be on library behavior regardless of whether they’re in
designated quiet cars.
But for a
company that relies on federal funding, I find their practices to be
indefensibly prejudicial. Considering how commuter trains between Boston and New
York take less than one hour longer than Acela trips,
the only real difference is the price tag. It’s simple segregation; those who have
enough means don’t have to shoulder up with middle class barbarians.
The news in this
morning’s Globe article is infuriating;
only now that companies are cutting
back has Amtrak lowered rates. Furthermore, they’re only dropping prices on
Acela trains, which normal folks don’t use anyway (and which, as Senator John
Kerry argues, are a huge rip-off since infrastructure is in such poor repair
that trains only reach maximum speeds for a few miles.)
I suppose that
when you’re limping with a governmental crutch there’s no use devising real
solutions – especially when such solutions would mean that professionals might
have to share rails with laptop-stealing paupers. I have a profitable idea they
might want to consider though: have a $20 party train with a DJ every night;
not only would it reach capacity regularly but the booze sales would be through
Recently I asked
a friend in corporate real estate – who was sitting on a number of vacant
properties – why his firm is so loathe to lower prices dramatically in order to
fill spaces. Not surprisingly, he had no real answer for why it makes more
sense to let a $1 million-a-month office sit empty for years on end than to let
a business pay half that.
mentality prevails at Amtrak, where Northeast ridership dropped nearly 12
percent in the past year. Screw them; as those of us who couldn’t and still
can’t afford such boutique services have known for years – we can take the
Bolt, Fung Wah, Lucky Star, or Megabus back-and-forth half-a-dozen times for
the price of one lousy round trip on the bourgeois iron horse.