With the busy holiday season quickly approaching, focus is turning not only to the yearly gathering with one’s loved ones, but also how to best travel home for the holidays. With news of the TSA’s body scanners vibrating throughout the web and heated opposition to the newer, highly revealing scanners on the rise, one of the unlikely beneficiaries of the TSA is potentially Amtrak. Amtrak has upgraded many of its trains for the holiday and is a viable option for people seeking an alternative to obnoxious airport pat downs and x-rays. A coach seat on an Amtrak train is equivalent in size and comfort to a business class airplane seat. No annoying transfers, little risk of suicide bombers and an Amtrak ticket is economical, comfortable and allows you to view the beautiful American countryside in a relaxed setting.
Perhaps predicting the upsurge in train transportation, Warren Buffet invested in Burlington Northern, buying the whole railroad line in November of last year. As the terrorist air threat and our government response to the threat becomes intrusive, and fuel prices increase due to quantitative easing and inflation, train travel may increase with corresponding increase in equity valued in railroad companies.
A price and quality comparison from L.A. to New York:
Plane: $240 to $450 according to Orbitz.com
Train: $310 according to Amtrak
Bus: $206.80 according to Greyhound
If you’re thinking that buying up Amtrak stock might be a good idea, you might be right, but unfortunately this is impossible as all of Amtrak’s preferred stock is owned by the US Federal Government. This might have been a smart move by the government, as revenue per passenger mile for Amtrak stands at 30.7 cents, compared to 13 cents for domestic airlines and 12.9 cents for transit buses.
Other plus points for Amtrak:
Wikipedia states that Amtrak is 30 – 40% more energy efficient than commercial airlines and automobiles overall. That’s a fairly large percentage to consider in an age where people are paying more attention to efficiency.
Deaths per 100 million passenger miles for Amtrak stand at .03%, compared to .05% for transit buses and .8% for automobiles. It seems it’s much more dangerous to drive your vehicle than to hop on a train with a set path and little room for traffic accidents.
If the TSA’s new body scanning machines and pat-down procedures are enough of a deterrent to American travelers, Amtrak might need to brace for a boom in business.