Asia and Europe have had high-speed trains for years, whooshing passengers between cities—the photo here is of Japan’s “bullet” train. Will our first one be in the middle of nowhere?
I mean no disrespect to Victorville, CA, or Las Vegas, NV. But conventional thinking has it that high-speed, or bullet, trains will only be cost-effective if they link big-population centers that have light rail connections that feed the fast train.
Like between New York and Boston or DC. Or LA and San Francisco. But Victorville and Vegas?
If a group of investors who have already spent tens of millions of dollars and Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada get their way, those two American towns will be the first to be linked by high-speed rail. Now, Victorville is 90 miles north of Los Angeles. Will people be willing to drive to that distance to catch a train?
The mayor of Victorville thinks so. He says people will want to save a couple of hours driving and avoid weekend backups on the interstate. He’s also counting on the train linking with an LA-San Francisco high-speed train. But that project remains in doubt. And I have to say, I think taxpayers will wind up heavily subsidizing the Victorville-Vegas train if it happens.
I hope I’m wrong.
During the opening segment, Rudy replays David Letterman’s “Top Ten Things You Don’t Want To Hear Your Pilot Say” and delivers the latest travel news; Jim Lapides, owner of the International Poster Gallery on Newbury Street in Boston, discusses the lure and increasing value of vintage travel posters; Thomas Finkbinder, senior chairman of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver, argues against the construction of a high-speed train linking Victorville, CA, and Las Vegas; Rudy answers listeners’ questions and reveals his travel Deals of the Week.
It’s getting more and more difficult to find parking in major American cities as city planners try to encourage greater use of mass transit and bikes. From Boston comes a clever idea.
What if you could type in your destination in a major city, indicate the time you’ll arrive, and get immediate information on where not just parking lots have space but where someone is about to leave a space on street? Or where someone has a private parking spot he or she might be willing to let you occupy?
That’s the premise behind a simple website I came across in Boston called SpotScout.com. The goal of the site is to save you gas and the world from more carbon monoxide by linking you with someone who has a parking space you might need. You may well pay a modest sum for the spot, but it’ll probably be cheaper than a commercial lot or circling around the block a dozen times in hopes you find a legal place to park.
Prices can adjust, too, depending on whether you’re looking for prime-time parking or not. Participants are pre-qualified so both parties can be sure they’re dealing with someone reputable. I think it’s a great idea.
Don’t be surprised if the next time you approach airport security a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent asks you, “How long have you been here?”
Questions like that are part of a new TSA program that the agency hopes will help it identify terrorists by noting unusual behavior prompted by questions.
If you begin sweating or your eyes dart around in such a way that a TSA agent thinks reveals you’re nervous during questioning, you’ll undergo additional screening, such as a pat down after you pass through a metal detector or full-body scanner.
The first airport to launch this program three weeks ago was Boston’s Logan airport, but it’ll be coming soon to an airport near you. It’s sort of Israeli security-lite. Passengers boarding El Al flights to Israel are familiar with the close grilling they receive when they check in. El Al security agents ask passengers dozens of questions aimed at tripping them up or making them nervous. They’re looking for inconsistencies, confusion, and any body language that might suggest you’re up to no good.
I think it’s a much more effective way of spotting a terrorist then requiring passengers to remove shoes or banning water at an airport security checkpoint.
I promised that when Southwest Airlines announced it would begin service at Newark Airport, it wouldn’t stop at just flying to St. Louis and Chicago beginning late this March. Last week, Southwest upped the ante, announcing additional service beginning June fifth from Newark to Baltimore/Washington International, Phoenix, Denver, and Houston. And if you think those 18 daily non-stops are the end of the story, you don’t know Southwest.
It aims to give Continental—soon to be called United—a run for its money at its Newark hub. This means if you plan to visit New York later in 2011, you have another low-fare airline option. (And as always happens with Southwest enters a new market, fares will fall on other airlines that serve the same route.)
Expect the airline that doesn’t charge for luggage to roll out new cities down the road. Because once Southwest has a toehold, it begins building. Just ask US Airways. It used to own Philadelphia and could charge $400 for a one-way, walk-up ticket to Boston. Southwest ended those happy days for US Airways.