Saturday, November 15, 2008

Brooklyn Bound

In order to truly cut down on cars, pollution and dependence in this country we would have to have all sorts of public transportation which we simply have not really invested in. Not surprising since the people doing the investing are investing in oil...

The issues of light rail and rail -- of public transportation -- I have always found them really interesting. My former father-in-law helped develop the Accella -- he's an economist, but he was also involved in the tests to see how fast a body could go before puking.
I have a friend in city planning who's been talking about the issues of our faulty system for years.

Interesting to think of how important the train could become -- if air fare does, as it was said last summer, truly become out of reach...

I'm taking the Accella to Brooklyn today.

A $260.91 Drive From Miami

Posted by The Interloafer on May 24, 2006 - 7:50am in The Oil Drum: Local
Topic: Miscellaneous
Tags: amtrak, gas prices, rail, transportation [list all tags]
Lore Croghan, a Daily News reporter, flew down to Miami recently to pick her daughter, Antonia, up from college. The two drove back to the city in a VW New Beetle. The 1,323-mile road trip cost them $260.91, including lodging and meals. Lore also had to fly down to Miami, which cost another $124, for a total of $384.91.

With a few days notice, Amtrak tickets for two from Miami cost $212 or $274 aboard the Silver Star or the Silver Meteor. You still need to factor in meals aboard Amtrak, which will raise that ticket price a bit. But the two prices seem roughly comparable for a party of two. But are they really?
The price breakdown ignores the fixed costs of owning a car (depreciation, vehicle maintenance, insurance, parking, etc.), and the related $124 that that Lore had to spend on her flight. Half of the purpose of the trip, after all, was to retrieve the car as well as the daughter. (Once you buy a car, you have to keep track of it.)

Of course, the increasing cost of energy is affecting rail travel as well as commercial aviation and private automobile use, but it is affecting rail a lot less than the other two. So as the price continues to increase, as we Peak Oilers expect it will, there will come a point where rail travel is unequivocally less expensive than driving. When that happens, I think we can expect "the markets" to start directing some money to the long-underinvested rail system.

Ignoring the fixed costs and overhead of owning a car, even on a per-trip basis for an individual, the economics are beginning to favor rail. A single adult ticket one way from Miami to New York costs $106 or $137 on Amtrak, half the price of two riders. Would one person driving along cost exactly half the price of two people? No. The cost of gasoline would be exactly the same. That is why it always makes sense to pack the car up with people and split the cost. We New Yorkers grapple with this question every time we're in a group trying to decide whether it makes sense to take a cab or the subway: The more people you have to fill up a cab, the cheaper the cost is per rider.

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