Sunday, April 06, 2008

Rails vs. trucking

World's largest truckstop.....passed on the way from Iowa City to Bettendorf in between endless farmland

This weekend instead of flying back to Dallas from Kansas City, I visited friends at universities across the Midwest. I had a blast (colleges in the middle of nowhere sure can party, especially when it's not freezing for the first weekend in a long time). On the way around in my rental car, I kept passing trucks. Working for a railroad this reminded me about all the thinking I've been doing about how railroads should replace more trucking.

When I see stories like this about the trucking industry arguing it needs this or needs that, I get angry. While railroads, the environmentally friendly way to transport goods, have to spend billions on their rail network, trucks get to use the roads for free. This is inherently unfair and bad for the country. Rails have many advantages, but trucks have flourished against their disadvantages - primarily that rail can't get everywhere and often takes longer, especially for short distances.

In an ideal world rail would transport much more cargo and trucks would be relegated to short distances and areas without rail. It may be coming, especially if fuel stays this expensive and even more so if we pass climate control legislation. But for now, we just have to be angry at that trucker who won't get out of the left lane despite going below the speed limit....

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