Riding into the Sunset


In other parts of the country commuters and travelers have the option of train travel. And while we do have the physical lines in and out of Loyola Avenue to Chicago and San Antonio, the rates are never cheap and it never seems convenient verse air travel.

I always thought it would be nice if there was an affordable line to nearby locations. It costs $44 to get from Portland to Seattle and only $20 to travel from Charleston to Savannah.

And where the internet does contain many conflicting myths and facts regarding the safety, environmental and speed parameters of train travel, and I am not an expert or convinced of the truth on any of the issues- I would still like the choice.

Yesterday, the grassroots advocacy rail group Sunset Marketing and Revitalization Team, "SMART" held their first meeting to explore ways to improve train travel in the Gulf Coast Region. Amtrak disabled its Gulf Coast portion of the "Sunset Limited Service" that offered rail service from Los Angeles to Orlando after Hurricane Katrina.

If there was a way to get a high speed train to travel along the Gulf Coast, it seems like it would help tourism and commerce for all of those trying to overcome challenges faced by hurricanes.

I can imagine relaxing on a high-speed train, watching the bayou rush by, with a gossip trash mag and a cup of coffee on my way to the panhandle beaches. Or even finalizing a business plan en-route to meet a potential business partner in Mobile. If someone from the north was planning a trip and couldn't decide on New Orleans verse the Biloxi Casinos, a train could help combine an adventure to both.

Badly needed redevelopment of the rail station in New Orleans could also revitalize the blighted area that greets tourist into our city. A visit to Union Station in DC and Grand Central in New York are staged as "must see" shopping and dining destinations to tourists.

Train travel may be a dying breed but I think that it should be looked at by officials in all Gulf Coast towns and cities as a way for the Gulf south to compete with other parts of the country.

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