Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Train from NYC to DC

This morning I took Amtrak's Accela Express from New York's Penn Station to Washington D.C. This afternoon I will be taking it back again. Bottom line: it's as if your flight was 3 hours of turbulence, ugh.

I investigated the train option when I discovered that it is cheaper to fly to Lisbon from New York than to D.C. Really. I am not making this up. The front page of the US Airways website is promoting a roundtrip airfare to Lisbon for less than $600. The roundtrip airfare on the "shuttle" to Washington is almost $700.

So I was pleased that the train was around half that round trip. And I figured that I would be able to work on the train for three hours since, of course they must have WiFi by now. And if I compare the time it takes each -- even though the flight is short, getting to the airport early and getting through security and all that means that it would take just as much time to fly (Ok maybe a bit less, but the train time would be 100% productive time).

The first dissapointment -- no WiFi. Gosh, I even have WiFi on the bus in San Francisco. What is wrong with people out here? Is Verizon paying Amtrak to keep WiFi off the train so that they can sell more EV-DO cards?

But the biggest dissapointment -- the ridiculous bumpy ride. Really -- like sitting on a plane with bad turbulence and bouncing for 3 hours. Why do people put up with this? Next time? Maybe I'll drive. Or buy my shuttle ticket far enough in advance to qualify for a reasonably priced ticket. But not the train. I can't even stand the thought of taking it back to NYC this afternoon.

1 comment:

Dan Brekke said...

Just got back from France, where I took an unscheduled but very reasonably priced ride on the TGV (from Rennes to Paris). One thing you really notice is how smooth the ride is. Same thing on the Shinkansen in Japan -- you can see how fast you're going, but the ride feels so light and smooth you can hardly believe you're on rails. In the United States, "the market" -- treated to really shabby service for a long, long time -- has decided that passenger rail is an afterthought and thus there's no investment, public or private, in making it a better experience. "The market" has also voted, apparently, for the same kind of service in air travel, too -- which most people would abandon in a second except for its undeniable advantage in speed.