FW: [Tr2000] Kunstler on rail / AMTRAK to Petrocollapse conference in NYC
- I think the carfree list would enjoy reading this too. Andrew Dawson
>From: "Raymond Dartsch" <raydartsch@...>
>Subject: [Tr2000] Kunstler on rail / AMTRAK to Petrocollapse conference in
>Date: Sat, 8 Oct 2005 10:35:28 -0400
>The following comments re: the role of rail in post-peak-oil world are from
>James Howard Kunstler, an author who made his mark decrying the soulless
>suburbs in "The Geography of Nowhere," and who is featured extensively in
>the film "End of Suburbia." I heard him speak at the "Petrocollapse"
>conference in New York City on Wednesday.
>"We are faced with the necessity to downscale, re-scale, right-size, and
>reorganize all the fundamental activities of daily life: the way we grow
>food; the way we conduct everyday commerce and the manufacture of things
>that we need; the way we school our children; the size, shape, and scale of
>our towns and cities.
>These are huge tasks. How can we bring a reality-based spirit to them?
>I have a suggestion. Let's start with one down-to-earth project that we can
>take on with confidence, something we have a reasonable shot at
>accomplishing, and fairly quickly, something that will address our energy
>problems directly and will make a difference for the better. Let's get
>started rebuilding the passenger railroad system in our country.
>Nothing else we might do would make such a substantial impact on our
>outlandish oil consumption.
>We have a railroad system that the Bulgarians would be ashamed of.
>The fact that we are not talking about this shows how deeply unserious we
>are - especially the Democratic party. I am a registered Democrat. Where is
>my party on this issue? Where was John Kerry? Where are Senators Hillary
>Clinton and Charles Schumer? We should demand that they get serious about
>rebuilding the public transit of America - not next month or next year but
>tomorrow, starting at the crack of dawn."
>In the Q&A period afterwards, Kunstler made the point that if we can't
>manage to fix the rail system, using old technologies that are
>well-understood, then we can forget about any massive infrastructure
>re-engineering projects involving solar or hydrogen or biodiesel or
>Here also is the story of my Amtrak Adventure to NYC. I boarded the "Maple
>Leaf" in Aldershot (Hamilton/Burlington) on Tuesday to a attend this
>conference on the social/political ramifications of Peak Oil in Manhattan
>Wednesday. The train got through US Customs & Immigration on schedule,
>only because the schedule included a 2.5 hr buffer between Niagara Falls ON
>and Niagara Falls NY stations. After seeing the conference brochure, the
>Customs guy asked me "Have you ever been arrested?" (I haven't, yet.)
>By the time we reached Albany, we were 45 min behind schedule, and this
>remained the case until we pulled in to Penn Station at 10:30. On my
>trip, I was not inspired to take the Maple Leaf back to Canada, with its
>7:15 am departure and >2hr wait at NF again, so I caught the 10:45am train
>that ended in NF NY. The train was 30 min behind schedule through Syracuse
>and Rochester but we ended up backing into the NF station on schedule at
>I made my way back to Burlington by taxi to the Rainbow Bridge, then on
>over the bridge and along the gorge to the VIA station, where my wife
>me up. (taxi fare from NF NY Amtrak station to US side of bridge, US$16;
>fare across into Canada, flat rate US$30.) The Whirlpool Bridge would have
>been more efficient, but it is closed to pedestrians, and to
>motorists/passengers without NEXUS clearance.
>Fortunately, the scare at Penn Station involving a pop can and fizzing
>dye, did not disrupt my travel plans, as it no doubt did for thousands of
>others. I did note several machine-gun-toting NYPD officers standing
>the 42nd St. Station. That sure made me feel safe.
>Also, Amtrak coffee is pretty lousy, but in an on-board experiment on the
>table in the cafe car, the coffee did not spill out of the cup (3mm below
>rim) as our 40-year-old coach moved through its 100-year-old rail corridor.
>Try that on a bus or a plane, without getting scalded.