I’m going back to DC on Monday and there are a few ways to get there from Pittsburgh. Most of them wholly undesirable for a number of reasons.
1. Bus: Greyhound is the only bus service that runs, at this point, between DC and Pittsburgh. A one way ticket costs $39 for a seat on an uncomfortable bus for 6.5 hours. The last time I took this bus route a woman rapped on my head three times to indicate she wanted to share my seat and then fell asleep on me.
2. Train. Amtrak is $6 more expensive and one hour longer than Greyhound.
3. Rideshare: So far, no one seems to be going to the same place at the same time.
4. Renting a car: Not really an option for me because I let my license expire since I don’t plan on driving ever again.
5. Airplane: I’m not going to spend that kind of money and get hopped up on that much jet fuel for such a short trip. Plus the process of going to the airport, invasive security procedures and additional waiting means that planes are less convenient and slower than they’ve been in the past.
6. Bicycle: I forgot to include my favorite vehicle, the bicycle! It doesn’t work for this trip since I will only be away for five days and it takes nearly that long to ride on the glorious Great Allegheny Passage.
Which is the best option?
Unfortunately the way our transportation system is presently organized, the most time and cost efficient way to travel is by car for this particular trip. A tank of gas costs approximately $25 for a compact-ish (3,000 lb) car, plus $8 in tolls. This is not a heavily traveled route so there isn’t much traffic and the trip takes 4-4.5 hours.
I prefer to ride the train because it is scenic and lovely. The route winds through gorgeous mountains and has a cafe car with windows from floor to ceiling for sightseeing. There are tables and comfy chairs that are perfect for writing, reading, drawing, anything you can think of, all while being chauffeured in the most comfortable setting with superb views. It’s pretty glamorous, actually.
Who in America has the time for such an extravagant trip? We are busy people!
Hey there, Mr. LaHood, you seem to be brimming with sound ideas. What about improving some of the current train routes so we don’t have to wait decades for high speed rail? I don’t need a bullet train everywhere, but the train should be at LEAST as fast as a car or we will never be able to move people away from that individualistic mode of transportation.
Traveling by Amtrak in the Northeast Corridor is the only quick route, faster than driving, by far, and it is always packed. There is clearly a high demand for trains, but trains that are faster than cars.
I want to support trains, I love taking the train.