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FW: [Tr2000] Kunstler on rail / AMTRAK to Petrocollapse conference in NYC

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  • Andrew Dawson
    I think the carfree list would enjoy reading this too. Andrew Dawson
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 8, 2005
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      I think the carfree list would enjoy reading this too. Andrew Dawson

      >From: "Raymond Dartsch" <raydartsch@...>
      >Reply-To: Tr2000@yahoogroups.com
      >To: <Tr2000@yahoogroups.com>
      >Subject: [Tr2000] Kunstler on rail / AMTRAK to Petrocollapse conference in
      >NYC
      >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
      >whatever.
      >
      >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
      >on
      >Wednesday. The train got through US Customs & Immigration on schedule,
      >but
      >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
      >return
      >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
      >7:50 pm.
      >
      >I made my way back to Burlington by taxi to the Rainbow Bridge, then on
      >foot
      >over the bridge and along the gorge to the VIA station, where my wife
      >picked
      >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
      >green
      >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
      >around
      >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.
      >
      >Raymond Dartsch
      >
      >
      >
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