Amtrak Ran Slower Than an Average Marathon Runner

Ryan Lau | @agorisms

In an embarrassing loss for public transportation on Sunday evening, Amtrak’s Vermonter train ripped through a truck just north of Bellows Falls, Vermont. Immediately following the incident, the train screeched to a halt. With few updates, passengers sat in the dark for hours, figuratively and literally.

The Amtrak Vermonter Crash

Eventually, conductors were able to disseminate information to the passengers. Some of them had been en route for more than 12 hours, boarding the train in Washington, D.C.

According to local police and Amtrak officials, the truck had fallen off of the highway due to icy conditions. Then, it smashed through a guardrail and fell onto the tracks. Though police quickly arrived on the scene, they failed to notify Amtrak of the incident with enough time for them to apply the train’s brakes. As a result, the train plowed through the fallen truck, slicing it in half.

Luckily, the driver had already left the vehicle and there were no injuries. Passengers on the Vermonter reported feeling a “slight bump” and “standard train turbulence”, but none were entirely sure of the nature of the stop until much later.

After about three hours, school buses arrived and brought the disgruntled passengers to nearby Bellows Falls Station. There, they waited another two hours for a double-decker bus that would take them to their final destination.

Public Transportation Shortcomings

The events of Sunday clearly portray a number of inadequacies. The quasi-public corporation, of course, cannot control when trucks fall on the tracks. However, they could have easily communicated better with the police in order to prevent the accident in the first place. Doing so would have saved the many passengers a lot of time, and in some cases, money. As a result, several resorted to calling long-distance Ubers to combat the inefficiency of Amtrak.

This is far from the first time that this specific line has had major issues. Last November, the train halted in Massachusetts, causing a four-hour delay before buses finally arrived and departed. The train also has a track record of arriving late to several key stops.

Just one day prior, Amtrak faced another brutal delay. The Lake Shore Limited line, which runs from Chicago to Boston and New York, arrived an astonishing five hours late to Springfield, MA and later stops.

Amtrak Lake Shore Limited delays

Moreover, the amount of time between the crash and the transportation to Bellows Falls shows a lack of organization. In the end, three local school buses reported to the site of the crash. By the time they reached Bellows Falls Station, three and a half hours had passed since the crash.

Bellows Falls Station is roughly 23 miles north of nearby Brattleboro Station. The Amtrak train left there at 5:00. In the time it took to transport the passengers by train to Bellows Falls, around four hours, an average marathon runner could have made the trip. Presumably, the five-hour delays on the Lake Shore Limited line involved similar speeds, for a duration.

Mass transit exists to reduce the time between points A and B; the fact that Amtrak operated at less than a runner’s average speed is a stain on not only the company but what it claims to represent.


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