Wednesday, February 10, 2010

GET ON BOARD WITH RAIL TRAVEL, OHIO!

Next stop.... YOUR street! There was a time, not too long ago,not even 60 years, rail transportation in Ohio was no stranger to the lifestyles of its residents. It was widely depended upon to get from point A to point B, and Ohio had an intricate rail network reaching all corners of our state.

As the use of the automobile gained more and more popularity with the lure and seduction of independence from confinement and not having to plan around the schedules of the trains, so followed the expansion of a highway network that would eventually see to the decline of rail transportation. Add to this, the spending in marketing of the automobile and air travel as the chief modes of transportation, coupled with government subsidy for such, the final nails were driven into the coffin of rail travel in Ohio.


Out of the above, was spawned the more relaxed and open scene of the suburban living model landscape---which replaced the former higher density urban-scapes. To date, these types of areas have evolved into becoming almost entirely auto dependent to get to and from any destination. If you pause and think about it, the old urban designs were actually much more walkable as they were built around the transportation needs of two legs rather than four wheels! Such a design also is more conducive to modern efforts in conservation to use less energy and to produce less pollution.

Back on topic with rail.......

Ohio, and America in general have reached a point that the availability of rail transportation service, both in large urban areas and rural areas has hit an all time low. It is virtually non-existent in some places like Ohio. I cannot believe in a state that is home to nearly eleven and a half million people and six major metropolitan areas, that rail travel and transportation options are so slim! I think this is a sad scenario that in the land of so-called "choice", America, Ohio in particular, has the false sense freedom of transportation choice--- because you are free as long as you drive! All this at a time when the public needs to be offered a viable real alternative to the automobile.

In Ohio, I have a concern that too many people in our state, having been fed a steady diet of mainly auto-only transportation options for the last 50 years or so, have totally forgotten just how convenient, environmentally friendly, desired by many----and just how far behind the rest of thew world we are in terms of offering a viable transportation rail alternative! Whats more, some people cannot even fathom how to utilize such a transportation option the way their grand or great grandparents did a mere lifetime ago, as alluded to at the beginning of this article.

If Ohio is going to economically strengthen itself, it must join hands with all of its major metropolitan regions so that they may create an economic synergy between one another---and part of building this strength is re-linking ourselves with rail. I would hate to see our state become a laughing stock as the rest of the nation moves forward with rebuilding our rail networks as President Obama has promoted.

If we want to attract new talent and businesses we must acknowledge the idea that many individuals who are a part of this new economy will come from many places around the globe---Places that have transportation options like rail! The people who ride rail are used to getting on the train, reading a book, preparing for a workday on a lap top, watching the scenery, taking a nap, having a coffee, all while going to work, or traveling for business or pleasure (none of which you can do in a car!. Also note that rail riders all are potential money spenders in our economy. Moreover, those who want and will use rail are used to saving money on fuel, maintenance, insurance, and auto payments--all of which is sort of an economic slavery of which we are imprisoned when we have only one option--and that is, being forced to live our entire lives in a car.

For others who have never so much as witnessed a train, let alone a passenger train pass through Ohio, perhaps it is time they become familiar with the many positives rail travel can offer---and I can make a safe bet that if rail had the luxury of the promotional spending and/or subsidy that accommodates the promotion of cars and planes, we'd see more people discovering and riding rail.

On the job creation front,I am not at all concerned about anti-rail interests harping about jobs being lost in the auto or insurance sectors. A few riding the rail, compared to the droves of cars on the road would hardly put a dent in such businesses for years to come---and besides, hasn't the insurance and all surrounding the auto industry gotten enough of your cash? It is time for a change. Let's usher in the new rail era which can create a whole new plethora of jobs surrounding that industry.

I am tired of virtually being forced to own a car and feel it is time Ohio start to drop the bad auto-only habit. To be attractive in the years to come, our transportation network needs to offer the kind of choices and diversity that appeal to a diverse population. The thinking that produces this auto-only choice environment, is merely a product of the suburban model that has helped to foster it for 50 or more years--and cannot open it's eyes to no other way. On the other hand, I am optimistic the trend can reverse, however, seeing that we have been exposed to rail transportation in the past--and the cycle back towards those roots is inevitable, be it a slow process.

Finally, it is very refreshing to go to a city or region in the world where there is a real sense of freedom in having a transportation option, where you're not stuck in traffic---where you don't have to worry about fines, accidents or other potential auto-related expenses, and where you don't feel rushed. Right now, I feel bullied into owning a car. That's not freedom to me.

As our state government is granted millions from the federal government for the purpose of expanding our part of America's rail network, please support rail transportation options in Ohio. We cannot afford to become a transportation joke! Don't blow the whistle our chances for rail to make a much needed comeback in Ohio--everybody climb all aboard and rediscover what has been a major part of our transportation heritage!

1 comment:

PERFECTING FACES said...

Your article is very informative and so very true! We must get back to basics and get the traffic under control and cars off of the road. Having train service is going to help this as well as help with the air quality.