An Amtrak train traveling from San Diego to Santa Barbara ran out of fuel eight miles from its destination. Hartford Courant Editor Jeanne LeBlanc’s daughter happened to be on the train, and recounted Amtrak’s puzzling response.
Anyway, the passengers sat on the train for two hours, in the dark for the last 20 minutes, before they were allowed off — but only if they could arrange their own transportation. She called her boyfriend and got a ride.
What would have happened if she could not arrange a ride?
She has no idea how long the other passengers had to wait. The plan, the crew had told them, was to have a freight train push the Amtrak train to an intersection, where a fuel truck could reach them.
We like Amtrak, we really do, mostly because it provides such a poignant counterbalance to “The Little Engine That Could.” Amtrak would be the single best way to travel along the Eastern seaboard if it wasn’t beset by breakdowns, power outages, and random, inexplicable delays. Traveling on Amtrak will continue to be a crapshoot as long as the railroad’s lifeline of federal funding continues to be a meager drip, rather than the full support needed to run an efficient transportation system.