Having the freedom to relax while you travel is a gift. Not having to purchase gas, look for parking, organize the GPS system and pull over multiple times to bang your head on the steering wheel and cry a few tears of road rage and frustration should be reason enough to travel more by train. It’s not though. Here are 5 main ways train travel is more sustainable than car travel.
1) Infrastructure: Maintaining road infrastructure is a strain on municipal funding. A healthy, well used train system would lean towards a more balanced transportation infrastructure, reduce costs, and promote more exploring.
2) Traffic: Dealing with traffic in your own city is annoying. Dealing with car traffic in a strange city means less free time to explore Amsterdam’s diamond factory, update your latest photo blog posting for appreciation of worldly insects, or sample delicious local wines and savoury cheeses in the marketplace. Traffic also leads to more gas use, pollution and general urban miserableness. Let’s just avoid it, reduce it and move on.
3) Convenience: The reality is that people don’t need cars, they have just have grown very dependent on them. Aside from the fact that train travel is an experience itself, it’s extremely convenient and in the long run this will prosper as a sustainable travel option. On short trips like Ottawa to Toronto, someone comes around with a food cart selling fresh hot drinks and snacks. You can plug in your laptop, iPad, karaoke machine (this will not be appreciated), electronic sudoku device, or whatever else you need to entertain yourself during your commute. Some of the better trains have Wi-Fi now. Better yet, unplug yourself and gaze upon the farms and rolling landscape zooming by as your home city fades in the distance.
4) Efficiency: Trains are a highly efficient mass people and product moving system of transport. In addition to their increasing efficiencies in technology and fuel consumption, they travel at faster speeds than any road vehicle and generally deposit you right at a city center.
5) Pollution Factor: Let’s say a train carrying 200 passengers might offset an estimated 100 car trips. Wow, looking sustainable! Now, let’s compound this and say 1/3 of Americans and Canadians take one train trip rather than a car trip. What just happened is 110 million car trips were eliminated and with it, all its toxic carbon pollution.
Commercialism in the automobile industry took a bite years ago, now people are hooked and feel defined by their car as if it represents an extension of their own personality. Is this who you are, or did you just unknowingly become the marketing you were over exposed to? One small step like leaving the car in the garage next time you visit a new city to explore is a positive step in the right direction.
A final note. Trains are highly relaxing! There’s hundreds of leisurely activities you could do on the train depending on what relaxes you. Assemble a collage of tornado newspaper clippings. Drink mimosas while speeding along on the observation deck of Via Rail’s “Ocean Line” to Halifax. Make beaded necklaces to fundraise for orphanages in Africa. Whatever. It’s your choice, and your journey.
Canadian train journey planning at: WWW.VIARAIL.CA