The Antiplanner remembers a time when trains were about the safest way to travel. Today, it’s U.S. commercial airlines, which have carried close to five trillion passenger miles since 2010 without a single fatal accident. Amtrak, which carries about 1 percent as many passenger miles as the airlines, has an average of about eight passenger fatalities per year, or a little more than one per billion passenger miles. The occupants of automobiles suffer about four fatalities per billion passenger miles, with rural roads being more dangerous than urban ones.
However you decide to travel, the Antiplanner wishes you the best this holiday weekend.
The Antiplanner is in Atlanta today and tomorrow to debate the question, “What are the Biggest Threats to Liberty in Urban Policy?” I think I already debated the issue, but I guess someone was entertained by it enough to ask for a rematch.
I’ll probably take a little time to bicycle around while I am here. If you can think of any good places to ride to from downtown Atlanta, feel free to let me know in the comments.
The Antiplanner is enjoying Amtrak’s California Zephyr through the Colorado Rockies today. Assuming all went well, I boarded the Coast Starlight in Portland on Saturday, then changed trains to the Zephyr Sunday morning, and will arrive in Chicago on Tuesday. From there I’ll take the Capital Limited to Washington, DC, all part of my research on the viability of passenger rail transportation in today’s America.
The California Zephyr near Granby, Colorado. Detail of photo taken by William Kratville for Amtrak in 2000.
I love passenger trains, but I planned this trip with some trepidation. I took Amtrak across the country many times in the 1970s, but since then Amtrak has succeeded in making its trains boring at best. My experience during the 1980s was that the seats were less comfortable, the overnight accommodations were prohibitively expensive, and the food was mediocre, leading me to switch to air travel for most long trips. Now I’m taking this trip to see if things have improved or are as bad as I remember them.
The Antiplanner has met many people who are smarter than I am, and one of them was my father, Robert O’Toole, who died last week at the age of 91. In fact, I sometimes suspected that he was too smart for his own good.
Born in Dayton, Ohio in 1925, Bob was the second of three sons. His father died of tuberculosis when Bob was 5 or 6 years old, and though his mother remarried, times were hard. One year, he received a bicycle for Christmas–but his mother and step-father had just made a $1 downpayment on the bike and he had to earn the rest.
He retreated into his books. “He read all the time,” one of his brothers told me. “He was so much smarter than the rest of us,” his other brother added. Bob graduated from Roosevelt High School at or near the top of his class in 1943. He was what people today would call a geek: a skinny guy into math and science but with few to no people skills.
The Antiplanner is in Washington DC this week to talk about infrastructure. At noon today, Eastern time, I’ll be on a panel of speakers discussing how the Trump Administration should set infrastructure priorities. The other speakers include the Reason Foundation’s Baruch Feigenbaum, Competitive Enterprise Institute’s Marc Scribner, and Maryland Public Policy Institute’s Ron Utt. C-Span has decided to broadcast this event, but you can also livestream it at the above link.
On Wednesday at noon, I’ll be on another panel discussing how Congress should set infrastructure priorities. The other speakers will be transportation expert Alan Pisarski, Heritage Foundation’s Michael Sargent, and former Virginia Secretary of Transportation Shirley Ybarra. Again, this should be livestreamed at the above link.
If you are in DC this week, I hope to see you there.
The Antiplanner is in St. Paul, Minnesota this week to talk with people about regional transportation planning. I’ll probably spend a little time at the Minnesota History Center to look up documents on rail history. I should have a more newsworthy post tomorrow.
Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.” Today, people use the word suffer in a very different way, as in, “Make automobile users suffer, and forbid them if you can, for of such is the work of the devil.” At least, that is the declared attitude of the Broward County Planning Council, as reported by the (Ft. Lauderdale) Sun-Sentinel.
The Antiplanner wishes everyone a happy holiday and hopes no one has to suffer this weekend no matter how they decide to travel. News will be slow next week so postings may be light.
The Antiplanner is flying to Washington DC today to participate in a forum on housing tomorrow, Should Urban Areas Grow Up or Grow Out to Keep Housing Affordable?. The forum will include a broad range of views including Gerrit Knaap of the National Center for Smart Growth Research and Emily Hamilton of the Mercatus Center.
If you plan to attend, please register at the above link. If you are unable to attend in person but would like to view the conference over the Internet, also use the above link to get the live stream.
The Antiplanner’s presentation will be based on a recent paper on The New Feudalism and additional data showing that increasing densities makes urban areas less affordable, not more.
The Antiplanner is in London today, starting a 16-day tour of Britain. Professionally, I’ll be looking at rail privatization and land-use issues. Personally, I hope to enjoy some cycling.
I should have wifi most days, so at least I’ll be able to post some photos of where I’ve been. I hope everyone has a wonderful time for the rest of the summer.
The Antiplanner will be doing “research” in several national parks over the next week or so, so postings will be light to non-existent. I’ll be back July 25.
Have a nice summer.