Since the invention of the automobile, many have fantasized taking to the open road on a cross country trip through America.Traveling on the “Mother Road” of Route 66 or any other artery paved with legends and intrigue.
It is true, the United States are vast, and can hardly be explored justly by airplane and its borders only traced by ship. But cars are not superior chariots of travel and transportation.
As rail travel still reigns, long from the days of steam engines, in the sleek and efficient form of Amtrak trains. Amtrak is currently the only inter city railway system in America that carries passengers. While not as efficient as the UK rail system, Amtrak uses far less emissions than other forms of transportation in the U.S.
When comparing transportation systems per passenger mile, the U.S. Department of Energy found Amtrak trains to be 20% more efficient than air travel and 30% more efficient than automobile travel.
In addition to the fuel efficiency of railway travel, Amtrak as a company is continually adopting environmentally responsible practices. Methods for reducing waste include the installment of recycle receptacle in all cafe and lounge cars, as well as a growing number of dining cars. Major stations also have installed designated recycling areas with many smaller stations following suit.
If you need to have your car handy upon arrival at your destination, you can board it on the Auto Train. The Auto Train is a carrier where passengers can stow their vehicles during their railway trip. This way you needn’t drive your vehicle long-distance, saving you gas money and putting a significant dent in the amount of greenhouse gases emitted. Most Auto Trains carry 80 vehicles and emit only half the amount of CO2 emission that would be emitted if all those vehicles were on the road.
For a single passenger, and sometimes even two or three passengers, Amtrak travel is a cheaper option than traveling by car. Traveling without a car also means you won’t have to spend extra money on hotels in-between stops. If you are pulling an overnight-er on an Amtrak train, just by staying in the seating car you already deplete the cost of lodging. Amtrak does offer adequate sleeping accommodations, ranging from $100-300 roomettes to family rooms and suites that climb up towards $1,000. Some accommodations can seem pricey, though they are packed with amenities including all three meals daily, but they aren’t required for overnight travel. This is because the coach seats on long distance trains are equipped with more space, leg and foot rests, and curtains. You are also given a pillow to use while you recline in your seat.
Because you and your group are being transported, none of you will have to worry about designating and taking turns driving. Nor will you need to mess with maps, traffic, or fatigue – let alone gas stations and bathroom breaks. Instead, you can all sit back and watch the world unfold before you. Unlike the interesting but alienating aerial view you get on a plane, the views from train travel, aided by massive windows, allow you to be immersed in the journey between destinations, so that you not only see but observe. In this way a train ride is somewhat of an adventure and vacation within itself. Homogenous stream of billboards and fast food joints are limited, in their place are excellent views of unspoiled riverbanks and forests topped with lively foliage in temperate months. While winter brings glacial beauty and starkly bare birches illuminate the woods. You may even witness the countries famed mountains, canyons, and other sites inaccessible from auto traffic routes.
As the day wears on you can watch the silhouettes of cityscapes give in to the night, and drift off beneath the stars without the slightest delay in your journey.
For with railway transportation, you can travel while you sleep. And awake to a whole new adventure.
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