Tag Archives: trains

Have You Hugged a Train Lately? National Train Day is May 12th.

Celebrate the fun and excitement of trains this Saturday! There are local events in Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin, San Antonio,  Jefferson, and Giddings–as well as other places across the country if you are not lucky enough to be in Texas.

National Train Day poster

Ever since my first trip at age 6, I’ve considered it the most civilized way to travel. Stretch your legs, get up and walk around any time, recline you seat without squeezing the person behind you… you can’t do these driving a car or taking a plane. Plus the U.S. Department of Energy says passenger trains are 20-50 percent more fuel efficient than planes or cars on a per-passenger mile basis. Relax and breathe easier on a train!

We can and should take pride in our trains. The United States has the most miles of track of any country in the world and Texas has the most miles of any state. Though the current levels of service don’t match up to Europe or Asia, we can change that.

Head over to the National Train Day website to find out more and to share your story about what trains mean to you. Share your stories here, too!

Bonus points if you ride your bike to the station!

-Kari Banta, Transportation Associate

Texas is the best (in AMTRAK ridership increases in the central U.S.)!

How would you like to travel from Fort Worth to Oklahoma City in just over four hours–all while getting some work done or putting your feet up for an early start to your vacation? Then hop aboard the Heartland Flyer!

You’ll be in very good company: this route has had the largest ridership increases in the entire central U.S.! Whether it’s avoiding the hassle of airports or the highway, rail’s popularity is increasing. Taking the train reduces roadway congestion and has a lower impact on air quality than driving or flying.

Straight from AMTRAK’s press release:

Leading the ridership increase in the Midwest during the first half of FY 2012 vs. the same period in FY 2011 is the Chicago-St. Louis corridor served by Lincoln Service trains and the Texas Eagle, with a combined ridership gain of 10 percent. The highest percentage hike in  the Central U.S. is a 10.6 percent increase in ridership on the Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City – Fort Worth.) Both routes are the subject of new technology deployments, with demonstrations of  110 mph Lincoln Service trains planned for this fall and a new train control system installed on the Heartland Flyer.

Here’s the Heartland Flyer pulling the 40th anniversary AMTRAK car last year:

Kari Banta, Transportation Associate

Gulf CAR SPILL Update #1

I sold my 1999 Nissan Altima the week before taking off on a jumbo jet for a two week vacation – my virgin visit to the Pacific northwest.  I got a round trip ticket to Seattle for $150 using points from my credit card. 

Seattle Space Needle from the ferry coming in from Victoria

 Swinging such a good deal,  I felt icky about capitalism and happily grown up and clever at the same time. 

 The Altima was wrecked.  A danger to me and the environment.  That’s why I didn’t want to return from my trip to begin driving it again.  Thus the car spill.  I got rid of my car.  I spilled it. 

 You, too, can have a car spill if you’re ready to go there with alternative modes of transportation.  That’s what this Gulf Car Spill series is about!  We ask the question, “Can you really get out of a car in the Summer in Texas?” 

The front end of the wretched Altima – a generous gift from my mother — was hanging together by a thread.  I’d been hit twice in the rear, once by a huge truck.  I’d rear-ended a pleasant, forgiving Mexican immigrant in his work truck.  So the Altima was just plain ugly with scars and too many bumper stickers to be cool in No Longer Weird Austin.    I had to let it go. 

Thanks Clark Little for this awesome image

Beside the realistic fear of an imminent personal tragedy on the Ben White flyover, I also no longer wanted to be a part of the petroleum problem. ( If you’re patient with that website, you can see the Eva Mendes video all about that sticky wicket, the petroleum problem.) 

For me, the BP oil disaster put the final nail on my childhood fantasy of being a dolphin diving into pristine waves on the shore of my native north Padre. 

Tim sez -- Its fun to ride the train in Austin!

I grew up the child of oil and gas in the sparkling city by the sea, Corpus Christi.  My beloved Coastal Bend probably beats the Golden Triangle (Beaumont-Port Arthur-Orange) for second largest petro-chemical economy on the Texas Gulf Coast – after Houston’s  number one position.  Because I cherish my memories of baking like a 1980’s rock lobster on the sand every weekend of my high school years, the oil spill and then that small problem of global warming have made it hard for me to put the pedal to the metal and let the juice flow anymore, without thinking twice.  And three times?  You’re out!  Of the car. 

Light Link from Seattle Seatac Airport to Bell Town downtown

 So I had a car spill.  During the hottest month of the year in central Texas, I sold the Altima to my beautiful Syrian friends at High Tech Auto on South Congress for $700.  Not bad for barely running. 

Then, I got a ticket to ride, to practice riding the ample public transportation in Seattle and Portland.  Now, I’m home, have no car, its hot outside, and I’m doing fine — sharing cars, taking the bus,walking, sweating, riding my bike.   

 Wanna know how to car spill?  Stay tuned for the next Gulf Car Spill Update with revelations of more smart transportation solutions… 

Molly at Portland's City Bikes Workers Cooperative

  • How you can participate in the TxDOT Sunset Review or We can change I35
  • Clean Electric Vehicles on a Solar-powered grid — my favorite way to go!
  • Alas!  I under bid  my dream NEV
  • The ins and outs of Austin’s car-sharing  experiment with those cute, cute Smart Cars
  •  Car sharing with friends and lovers
  • Walking to work at 100 degrees and looking fresh when you arrive to do b’ness.
  • How to ride the bus!!!
  • Scooting to lunch on the electric scooter
  • Bike lanes, Bike corridors, Bike fun 

I love the public art at this Portland Train Station

 Brrreeeeng!  Brrrreeeeeng! 

(That’s the alerting  sound of the cruiser brass bike bell.) 

Donna Hoffman, Lone Star Chapter Sierra Club