Giving the bus another chance

When was the last time you took a bus instead of a plane or train? Until a week ago, it had been 12 years for me. I didn’t have fond memories from back then, so I reluctantly decided to give the bus another chance with a weekend trip to New York, and I’ll happily do it again.

There are at least three reasons why I avoided hopping back on a long-distance bus all those years: It’s slower than a plane, less comfortable than a train, and ground transportation doesn’t really excite me. The only advantage has always been the lower cost, but that wasn’t enough to entice me because if I planned well in advance, I could get a plane or train round-trip ticket from Washington to New York for $120. Even the additional airport-security measures after Sept. 11, 2001, failed to change my mind…

New hopes for rail travel

Have you heard that trains are “in” again? They have been “out” for so long, it’s almost hard to believe it, but President-elect Barack Obama’s decision to ride the rail into Washington for his inauguration has excited many train lovers.

Since flying became the main form of long-distance transportation in the United States in the past couple of decades, repeated warnings by railroad executives and industry advocates that insufficient funding and out-of-date equipment would lead to the system’s collapse seemed to fall on deaf ears. Finally this fall, Congress more than doubled funding for Amtrak, the semi-public company, in a $13 billion railroad improvement bill sponsored by Reps. James L. Oberstar, Minnesota Democrat, and John L. Mica, Florida Republican…