Wednesday, May 14, 2014 Link Dump [think of better title]

Some of you may be wondering where parts 3 and 4 of our Investigative Series is:  “ratpag did you not really conduct an investigative series” or “are you all out of ideas” or “are you still protesting the six hour delay on Amtrak the other day?  Get over it.”  We can only give a solid “maybe” to all of that.

In any case, we will conclude, or begin to conclude, the remainder of our Investigative Series later this week but first wanted to bring our correspondents back in the loop as we haven’t heard from them in a while.  So today we present yet another Link Dump by our New Jersey correspondent:

Did you and your readers know that our friends at Gallup recently (editor’s note:  “recently” made more sense when this was originally written) conducted a study to identify which states are highest rated by the people who live in them?  Well, they did!  Gallup asked residents of each of the fifty states which state was the best and worst possible place to live.

Now, of course, with the expansive network of rail lines connecting the countryside like fine thread tying together an elegant garment, we would expect residents to just take the train to live in the state they rank best.  Alas, perhaps because of delays, or perhaps because they cannot bring their pet on the train, some people are stuck in a state that they do not rank as the best place to live.

Though some websites might go through a list like this state-by-state and, perhaps, produce a picture list or top reasons not to live in each state, I will only analyze five.  You’re welcome.  If readers are so inclined I welcome you to comment with observations on the other 45 states – if you’re at work I’m sure you have the time.

First, given that Montana was ranked first and an unbelievable 24% of Montana residents say their state is the best state in which to live, we need to figure out why it ranks so highly.  The reason seems obvious:  there were over 148,000 Amtrak trips taken to or from Montana stations in 2013.  This number is pretty impressive given that there are only two trains (one in each direction) per day on one single line – and that line is over 200 miles from the southern part of the state.  The architecture critic at the New York Times thinks being a mile from a transit line is too far (ed’s note:  we agree!) and that service every 10 minutes makes a line the “city’s sorriest little railroad.”  I’d hate to see what he would write about Montana!

Montana should probably be compared to states close to it and I noticed that only 16% of people in Colorado say their state is the best place to live.  I thought it’d be higher!  Could it be because so few people use Amtrak in Colorado?  Almost 200,000 people took Amtrak to or from a Colorado station last year – almost a third more than in Montana – but their population is over five times as big as Montana’s.  Colorado seems to be supporting bicycling but perhaps they should focus a little more attention on the rail aspect – people could take their bike on a train!  Two non-car transit modes in one trip!

Scanning the rest of the country, I don’t think we can trust the poll results from Washington state.  The survey says 14% of the residents think it is the best possible state to live in but a vote in Washington came out against funding for bus service.  I’m not sure we can trust polls or votes out in Washington.

On the East Coast, only 8% of people in Arkansas think it’s the best place to live but that’s not surprising given their car culture and confusing highway numbering.  And, further north on the East Coast, New Hampshire polls far better than Massachusetts or Rhode Island or Maine or Connecticut.  Could that be because of the bipartisan effort to raise the gas tax there?

And, although it was left off the poll, I won’t forget our friends in Canada.  I assume they think it’s a good place to live up there, especially since they’re modernizing their rail network.  Their free speech laws may be a bit different there than here in America but this author will not opine on a topic so contentious.  Instead, I will let the great legal minds up there debate a topic so controversial and use this final link to tie it back to transit here in the USA (ed’s note:  what an interesting way to end a link dump!).

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2 Responses to Wednesday, May 14, 2014 Link Dump [think of better title]

  1. ratpag says:

    Montana’s weird. Amtrak’s Empire Builder line serves a bunch of towns with high rates of poverty and alcoholism—perfect candidates for transit. ratpag realizes this is also true in Colorado, but unlike Colorado, many of Montana’s towns don’t have Greyhound or any bus service. These are also the kinds of places where you do NOT want to hitch-hike, due to previously mentioned alcoholism. It’s Amtrak or nothing.

    • ratpag says:

      I was thinking Montana gets a lot of rides due to the stops at Glacier NP and the vacation packages that Amtrak sells, too. I guess that probably wouldn’t bring in but so many of the 150k, though. Along with the high alcoholism and poverty there’s probably not a lot of airports at a lot of those towns either.

      Look at ratpag here talking to itself!

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