Good Idea, Bad Idea

Maybe the whole dang thing was a bad idea. If you really stop and think about it for a while the only reason we need airlines in the first place is that we already have them.

When the train was the best way to get from coast to coast nobody threw themselves on the ground and wailed about the trip taking almost three days. If they did nobody really cared. For the most part everybody just left a few days earlier than they would now, learned to write effectively instead of going in person and when they did need to travel just had no choice but to relax and enjoy it. If they hadn’t all been chain smoking the entire way statistics might have shown it to be a more healthy lifestyle than ripping across the country in a jet.

The rapid success of FedEx and the copycat overnight mail services are a perfect case in point. Before FedEx the country worked just fine. Things seemed to show up late once in a while but only when they were sent late. Delivery was always regular and dependable. Overnight delivery marketing just takes advantage of our inherent weakness for putting things off.  It’s as if we gained two days on the calendar in 1979 and just can’t catch up.

The airlines had already lost more money by 2003 than had ever been made by all them put together, ever. Then things started to get rough. Now all the pilot pension funds are pledged to corporate debt, or just gone. 40 wunK funds are about to suck too and fuel is over four dollars a gallon.

At about a thousand gallons per hour this makes a difference, since at about two dollars per gallon carrying people in a jet is not a viable business model anymore.

  The problem with this is that we all moved thousands of miles from where we might need or want to be on occasion.  Other means of travel aren’t really effective anymore, Amtrak has limited service and is as a result slow and pricey in most markets. Our highway system, aside from being an environmental impact disaster, is positively deadly compared with other travel modes. Buses and buss stations are not generally desirable.

What are we to do? If I were king (and it would require a monarchy to do this) there would be transportaion stations in every city. These would be connented by reliable, smooth, low tech trains. Not super expensive, super fast trains. Just trains. Stations would all connect to, or be part of airports and be served by reliable, clean bus service to  places not served by planes or trains. Jet planes would be used mainly for the long distance connections. Sea ports would be required to have reliable public transportation from the train station/airport to the ships.

All cities would have ELECTRIC light rail. If Chicago can do it anybody can. Actually, almost everybody already did. It is just that the public transportaion infrastructure was all destroyed after WW II. Corporate , non-public  fleets of business jets would be taxed out of existence. As long as executives of mega-corps and our law makers don’t have to use the same system it will always suck.

Yes, this would make me the aviation anti-christ but it might just save the industry in the long run. And, Walmart would hate it.

Happy Landings

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3 Responses to “Good Idea, Bad Idea”

  1. Very interesting thoughts! We’ll see what the next years will bring, maybe even a monarchy 😉
    And you should definitely pay a visit to Switzerland 😉 We have an awesome train network and excellent public transport. But unfortunately it’s neither making money nor is it cheap…

  2. > it would require a monarchy to do this

    Call me a dreamer, but I actually think democratic capitalism is gradually delivering exactly what you describe: people are gradually coming to care about the infrastructure that delivers their long-term quality of life, and ceasing to buy and vote for solutions that aren’t sustainable.

  3. I would certainly support you as monarch, if you could manage to implement decent, reliable, clean, ubiquitous public transportation in this country. After living in Europe, it’s one of the things I miss the most since moving home…

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