$20 a Gallon, Part 8: $18 Gas – A Renaissance of Rail!

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$20 a Gallon, Part 8: $18 Gas – A Renaissance of Rail!

So we’re eating local food, enjoying our local community, walking more driving electric cars, and the planet is healing—what about going places to visit friends and relatives?
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$18 Gas – A Renaissance of Rail! http://3bl.me/z4vsrh
Friday, January 15, 2010 - 3:00pm

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So we’re eating local food, enjoying our local community, walking more driving electric cars, and the planet is healing—what about going places to visit friends and relatives?

Well, At $18 a gallon, as author Christopher Steiner points out in $20 Per Gallon, we’re going to start riding the rails again. Not like the hobos in a John Steinbeck novel, but as a preferred, speedy way to get to and from most places.

Rail in the US has been in decline ever since the Zephyr sped its way from Denver to Chicago in 1934. It made that rip in 13 hours and 5 minutes- about 5 hours less than it takes by car to day. Its top speed was 112.5 mph. The Zephyr was the grandparent of today’s high speed rail, which moves people much more energy and resource efficiently than either planes or cars. But the US has lagged behind in rail ever since- today trains in Europe , Japan, China Korea- even Spain typically exceed 150- 200 miles per hour, while travel in American trains has actually slowed dramatically over the years.

Cheap oil has lured us away from rail to autos and planes. But at $18 a gallon, that will all change. The US is already beginning to subsidize rail again, which is only fair, since US taxpayers have been subsidizing highways to the tune of 150 billion a year.  Even at $4 gas, rail can be competitive. Our one high speed train, the Acela runs between Washington DC and Boston with stops in Baltimore, Philly, NYC and a few towns in between. It cost as much or more than the plane, but you can walk right on the train without security checkpoints or needing to arrive 90 minutes ahead of departure. When all is said and done, it’s twice as fast as flying with fewer delays. And it’s usually full – you can relax, talk in the phone or plug in your computer and make use of the travel time the whole way. Less energy, more productive work time- real waste to resources.

If Spain can do it, we can. California is already moving to connect the state by high speed rail from San Diego to San Francisco and Sacramento. Texas will link Houston, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio, with spurs to Galveston and Corpus Christi and from Dallas to Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Kansas will link up from Oklahoma City to Wichita to Kansas City.

Florida will jump in and connect Miami-to Fort Myers, up to Tampa and on to Orlando and Jacksonville. Chicago will regain its status as a rail hub reaching out to Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Indianapolis and St Louis which will connect to the Kansas City to Houston line. And Chicago will link to NYC, a trip that now takes 21 hours on our old trains and 16 by car, to a 6 hour high speed trip. And rail will continue to grow and speed up. We were the first to connect a continent by rail, and at $18 a gallon, The City of New Orleans, The Vermonter, and The Zephyr will rise again. In our final installment in this series, we’ll look at gas at $20 and beyond, and the future of energy.

$20 a Gallon, Part 7: $16 Gas – Local Food Rises Again!
$20 a Gallon, Part 6: $12 Gas – Bye ‘Burbs, Hello City Life!
$20 a Gallon, Part 5: $14 Gas —Small Town Renaissance
$20 a Gallon, Part 4: $10 Gas — Drive Small and Clean
$20 a Gallon, Part 3: $8 Gas Clears the Friendly Skies!
$20 a Gallon, Part 2: $6 Gas Kills SUVs dead!
How Rising Gas Prices will Spur Waste into Resources

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Keywords: $20 Per Gallon | Christopher Steiner | Fuel | Gas | fuel costs | price of gas | travel | travel prices

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