All Aboard The Acela Express

IMG_1839On Thursday I needed to get from Washington, D.C. to New York City. Rather than taking a plane, I decided to try the Amtrak Acela Express.

I’ve never taken a train trip in the United States. I’ve ridden trains in Europe, but there is no American passenger train station in Columbus. I figured it was about time I tried an Amtrak train. After all, as an American taxpayer, I’ve been subsidizing Amtrak for decades. The Acela Express is supposed to be one of the few Amtrak routes where ticket revenue actually covers is operating costs (some people dispute this), although capital costs of the route remain subsidized by the federal government. Why not take advantage of the opportunity to see what my tax dollars have produced?

IMG_1842I liked taking the train, and I’d take it again. The Acela Express leaves from Union Station in D.C., has stops in Baltimore, Wilmington, Delaware, Philadelphia, and Newark, then arrives in Penn Station about 2 hours and 50 minutes after you’ve left the Nation’s Capital. Total travel time is about what you’d have by air, factoring in the time needed to get to the airport and go through security, and you end up in the middle of Manhattan rather than at LaGuardia. The cost of my first-class Acela ticket was about the same as the cost of a flight, too.

The first-class car was clean and spacious, and the train was sold out. Most of the first-class passengers were taking advantage of the free wireless that was afforded and the free beverages; my traveling companion and I each had a glass of decent red wine. Our car was quiet and spacious. The train rocks a bit, but you can stretch your legs and walk to the cafe car if you want, or just watch the scenery roll by. As an added bonus, I saw a U.S. Senator on the trip — New Jersey’s Bob Menendez.

A New York attorney I know said the Acela Express advertises itself as the “civilized” travel alternative. That’s not inaccurate. Thanks, fellow taxpayers, for a pleasant journey!

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