D ear Miss Kashani,
I read your article in the “Debate Forum” with interest, but found myself unable to agree with your positions. Many, including myself, talk about our need to rely more on public transportation and less on our own transportation, but must admit we haven’t used public transportation in years, if ever. For me, it has been since my days at UD and I graduated in June of 1962. Every time I observe an empty RTA bus go by, I have to remind myself that they are needed to support the many individuals who don’t have the luxury of transporting themselves.
As for your comment, “I’d love to bring my laptop, jump on the train’s Wi-Fi and spend the time online,” I must inquire as to the number of trips you made to Cleveland this past year where you would have used the train had it been available. I suspect, unless you have family there, the number is rather low. I grew up on Long Island and as a boy did ride the LIRR and the New York subways fairly often. Have you ever tried to park in NYC? We used to joke about how it was cheaper and easier to sell your car in the City than to park it. Therefore, we took the train.
In the late 50s, while attending UD before the interstate highway system was completed, I did ride the Penn. Rail Road between Dayton and New York each time I went home or returned to UD. During those years I remember the trains being crowded and meeting many interesting people who were traveling long distances on the trains. I loved eating in the dining cars, seeing the countryside and the small towns pass by, and meeting the interesting people. I sometimes even went to Columbus to take the New York Central RR just to ride through upstate New York and along the Hudson River for a change. However, sleeping on the trains wasn’t much fun even if you had a soft shoulder to lean on. The nights were very long.
I was sad to see the day come when the empty passenger trains stopped running and the Dayton RR station torn down. I used to think the lower level could have been turned into a fine restaurant. After seeing how the downtown declined and even the once beautiful Arcade and the old King Cole Restaurant, etc. couldn’t survive, I question if a new rail road station will bring people back.
New trains running between Cincinnati and Cleveland aren’t going to draw enough people to make them anything more than “money pits.” If rail transportation is going to work, it must consist of true, high-speed, modern trains connecting all major cities across the country. I would love to see that day. President Eisenhower’s interstate system, that you spoke of in your article, did exactly that. It connected all the major cities across the United States with high-speed roads. Speed limits went from 45 MPH to 70 MPH as interstates were completed. It truly changed how people lived and traveled.
It’s unfortunate that our President has used so much “stimulus” money recklessly and put this great country so deep in debt that it will be generations before we recover and truly have the opportunity to change how people live. President Kennedy once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” I believe in the last few years, Americans have been taught to ask, “What can this country do for me, not what can I do for this country.”