We would like to visit a friend in Richmond. She has offered to meet us at the Richmond Amtrak station. It sounds like fun — we have not made this rail trip before. But then …?
We can drive from Davis to Richmond and back, about 130 miles, in our compact Toyota pickup, on less than one tankful of gas, which, filled to the brim (12.2 gallons), currently costs exactly $40.13. Or we could take Amtrak, for a round-trip cost for two of $85.
All studies show that rail travel consumes one-third to one-fifth the amount of energy per passenger-mile as car travel does. Our fuel cost to Richmond and back by car is about $35, so the Amtrak trip should cost us about $12. Can’t Amtrak officials do arithmetic?
Something is very wrong with this picture. What is it? If the goal is to decrease automobile traffic and greenhouse gas emissions, and to practice — and encourage others to practice — ongoing energy conservation, hey, Amtrak! This is not the way!