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Transportation

Romanticizing Rail Is No Way to Save Amtrak

The #AmtrakResidency program bolsters the notion that train travel is a ponderous luxury, not a useful public good.
"American Railroad Scene," a Currier & Ives print, 1874.
"American Railroad Scene," a Currier & Ives print, 1874.Library of Congress

Maybe I'm just jealous. Amtrak has announced the 24 winners of its inaugural #AmtrakResidency program, and my name isn't on the list. Granted, I never applied. But now there are 24 people getting free tickets for long-distance passenger rail lines, and I'm not one of them. Tickets that I might like to use. Tickets that a lot of people might like to use.

It's nothing against these specific writers—although I did feel the distinctive urge to chuck my laptop when I spotted among the winners one pick-up artist-turned-self-help guru who goes by a mononym and just bought an island. May the winners all use their long-distance Amtrak rides to write their poetry, criticism, music, letters, spy shit, and whatever else they can accomplish with a window seat and unreliable WiFi. Except that guy.