To the Editor:
We should not fall prey to the false belief that a train is the most efficient form of transportation. It is only efficient when the it is carrying a large payload. People are not efficiently transported by rail. Based on information in the U.S. Transportation Energy Data Book, a 200-mile trip by train with a 40 passenger load would consume the equivalent of 2.72 gallons of gasoline per person. A bus with 40 passengers would consume 1.62 gallons per person. A van carrying six people would consume 2.34, and a car with four people 2.42 gallons.
If the train were to carry more passengers it would have to add eight times more vehicle weight per passenger than a car, so to be efficient the train would have to put 1650 people on a car and fill 100 cars. The train requires more people to operate, it spends a long time idling, and it has minimal pollution requirements. When you increase the number of stops, train efficiency drops.
There are hidden costs also, the vegetation along the tracks is controlled with herbicides, right next to the river and streams. We subsidize the railroad, a Gore lift ticket/transportation package is only $70, but just the Gore ticket is $75. The town board voted to allow the railroad to use Tannery Pond twice a week for free, letting the other users and the taxpayers foot the bill. Just wait until the rail repairs start. It costs about $350,000 per mile to refurbish an existing rail bed. The railroad only has to pay for the first $50,000 per mile, the taxpayers are on the hook for the rest.
The train kills economic diversity of the region, reducing economic activity outside its location. The train doesn't stop at the store and buy gas and groceries, if you are not located by a station it could reduce your opportunities. Even if you are lucky enough to benefit from the train, about the only jobs it will create are service jobs. These are menial labor jobs, not a career, that allows you to get ahead in life, or even get a mortgage.
Peter Heid, Johnsburg