Catching the train in Charleston

Image by flickr user reivaxImage by train.jpg As gas prices keep going up, will trains become the new wave of transportation in America? Talk about the old becoming new again ...

The Post and Courier's Kyle Stock writes about how AmTrak usage has grown by double-digit percentages in the past year as gas prices get out of control. There are two trains that come through AmTrak's North Charleston station, the Palmetto and the Silver Meteor, and both are seeing more passengers this year.

From The Post and Courier:

Some 14.3 million people boarded an Amtrak train from October through April, 10.6 percent more than in the same period a year earlier, according to the National Railroad Passenger Corp., the federal organization that runs Amtrak.

Some of the outfit's biggest increases have been posted along the Interstate 95 corridor, where the silver coaches fork from the interstate smog and swing through the Lowcountry haze to North Charleston.

The Silver Meteor, which stops here while zipping between New York and Miami, has welcomed 7.4 percent more passengers this year.

The Palmetto, which connects New York and Savannah, has carried 12.5 percent more riders.

The Post and Courier also has video of the North Charleston station in action.

Don't forget, though, that AmTrak has many of its own problems. The company is still not profitable and depends on government aid to cover shortfalls each year. And the fact that it runs on freight companies' tracks means there are often delays, especially for longer trips.

But it's good to see an increase in passenger traffic for the train system. Maybe if more people start using it, then the government could invest in better infrastructure and trains and put stops in more places. It's long-range mass transit that can really help lower our dependency on oil and help us as a nation become more energy efficient. So take the trains, people!

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