Monday, March 14, 2011

Separating the "Classes" from the "Masses" on High-Speed Rail

Here's a shorty.  It's a passage from a New York Times article about riding the Acela.  As you know, the Acela is the closest thing we have to high-speed rail in the US.  It runs from Washington D.C. to Boston, by way of a number of major cities along the NorthEast Corridor. 

The author took a ride on the train, which, it turns out had a problem with shutting off its warning chimes.  Cute story, but not that important.  After a reference to "cushy new leather seats,"  here is the paragraph that caught my attention: 

Now, Acela passengers are a stoic lot. Call them the crowd of the “Three B’s”: BlackBerrys, briefcases, Brooks Brothers. It is not unusual for passengers to conduct entire conference calls on Bluetooth headsets from their business-class seats, conveniently equipped with power outlets and free wireless Internet. The train is a boardroom on wheels.

This, in different words, is precisely what I have been saying forever. High-Speed Rail is for business travellers on expense accounts (as was this writer, no doubt), 'suits' with laptops, and perhaps well-to-do tourists.  It's the premium, first-class way to travel by train. 

Whatever the CHSRA will finally charge to ride the train, it will be the most expensive train ticket you can buy.  Check out the Acela (Amtrak) ticket costs on the web.

Now, there's nothing wrong with that. Except, I shouldn't have to pay thousands of dollars of my tax payments to the government to build and operate this train. And that's what I and every other American is being told to do.  There are many other problems as well, but let's stick with this one here.

Clearly, the train is intended for the upper classes, not the blue-collar working stiffs, the former being typically Republican.  The Democrats who advocate this train are supposed to represent the "ordinary Joe." The Democrats are the Party of the manual workers, the middle classes. That's why the Unions support them.

So, why in hell are the Democrats pushing this train for the elite down our collective throats? Why is my Party, the Democratic Party, promoting luxury trains?  Is this program supposed to be like Roosevelt's WPA program which employed so many of the unemployed during the Great Depression? Those employed by the Government worked on National Parks, post offices, bridges and other national projects that were intended for EVERYONE. National Parks were intended to be free to every American.

Now, unfortunately, the Democrats are promoting an employment program that will create a subsidized service for the rich business classes. And, I, my children and their children, will have to pay for it.  That does not seem right.