January 1, 2006


Rail Riders Stay on Track Despite Drop in Gas Prices (Caitlin Liu, January 1, 2006, LA Times)

Ridership on Southern California's commuter rail lines has defied conventional wisdom and climbed to an all-time high despite falling gas prices, with officials now on a global hunt for more trains.

Metrolink, which provides rail service from downtown Los Angeles to five surrounding counties, saw a jump in ridership when gas prices escalated this summer and fall. In the past, those numbers tended to even out as gas prices declined and some commuters went back to their cars.

But Metrolink officials said they have not seen that decline in 2005. Instead, 41,513 passengers boarded Metrolink trains on an average weekday last month, a 4% rise since September when prices peaked at pumps across California. (Gas prices topped off at $3.05 a gallon in September, according to statewide averages, but have now tumbled to $2.23.)

"We were expecting what everyone was expecting. But so far we've only gained ridership. So it must be more than just gas prices," said Denise Tyrrell, spokeswoman for Metrolink.

No man with a soul prefers a car to a train.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 1, 2006 6:21 PM

My soul prefers the independence of stopping spontaneously in different towns and assorted restaurants along the way when it travels, thank you very much.

Posted by: obc at January 1, 2006 6:43 PM

Only a man with a hole in his head would prefer the limitations of a train.

Posted by: Gary at January 1, 2006 6:49 PM

were you born mouthless?

Posted by: oj at January 1, 2006 7:26 PM

I can see it now, millions of fans flocking to rail yards all over the country to watch NASTRAIN.

Posted by: JimBobElrod at January 1, 2006 8:01 PM

train pulls

Posted by: toe at January 1, 2006 8:26 PM

Let me get my good monocle and top hat out, so I'm prepared for that marvel of the 19th century, the train ride.

Posted by: Pete at January 1, 2006 8:47 PM

It's too bad you can't park your car on the train when you travel long distances by rail.

Posted by: Brandon at January 1, 2006 8:48 PM

OJ never lived in Texas or he wouldn't be trumpeting the superiority of trains to cars. The trip to my job would take almost 3 hours longer by train.

Posted by: sharon at January 1, 2006 9:09 PM

Does anyone see the irony in OJ's lauding of the intrinsic value of auto mechanics in one post, while promoting the abolition of automobiles in most others.

I think the best bet is to let the market decide, and yes, OJ, let us by all means stop subsidizing the car culture.

Posted by: Bruno at January 1, 2006 9:29 PM

Rejuvenating the train as a means of transportation would be one of the smartest investments the United States could make right now. I'm really surprised that you are all for this; Are there any other issues on which you and who you would call "the Left" are in agreement with?

Posted by: Grog at January 1, 2006 9:43 PM

Trains are the public restrooms of transportation. You use them because you have to, not because you prefer it. OJ, you're off base on your anti-car attitude. Cars are about freedom.

Posted by: Tom W at January 1, 2006 9:58 PM

Soul Train.

Posted by: jefferson park at January 1, 2006 10:41 PM

Grog: Only one of us is for it, and he is a leftist.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 1, 2006 10:50 PM

. . . and it ain't me.

Posted by: obc at January 1, 2006 10:57 PM


Almost all. Conservatives are just effective Leftists.

Posted by: oj at January 1, 2006 11:09 PM


Freedom is a means, not an end.

Posted by: oj at January 1, 2006 11:12 PM

Prefer a car = no soul?

Consider the classic lines of a 66 GTO. Or the new Mustangs. The absolute beauty of Ferrari.

The music of a fine tuned engine. The power of an old American V-8.

That is soul, Brother Judd.

Posted by: ept at January 1, 2006 11:50 PM


Excellent point. And I note that I have never seen a post exhorting children to become railroad mechanics.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 1, 2006 11:56 PM

Stopping the "Subsidy" of the car culture would be fine be me, as long as we stop subsidizing passenger rail (and, by extension, any and all mass transportation.) I'm quite certain who would get the worse end of that deal.

Posted by: Kirk Parker at January 2, 2006 12:10 AM

unions kill train use wherever it still exists as daily transportation. they just can't help themselves. i commuted by train in the u.k. for a year (had no car for the first year). the most interesting thing other than ira bombs on the tracks was the time i got off and the platform was covered in police tape. turned out a restroom assignation had turned bloody, with the surviving sodomite footing it up the high street covered in blood. good times, good times.

Posted by: toe at January 2, 2006 12:17 AM

I am 100% for "rejuvenating the train as a means of transportation", but for freight, not passengers. It would save money, and be better for the environment.

I am for it despite the fact that it would gore my own oxen, as currently all of my household's income depends on freight being shipped by truck.

However, rejuvenating rail transport would require rail executives to reverse their decades-long habit of resting their heads in their rectums.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at January 2, 2006 12:26 AM

As some one who argues that you'll take my car when you pry it from my cold dead fingers, I believe I know where OJ is coming from on this issue (not that I agree 100%)

In a truly free market, what would we decide re: transportation? As a Chicagoan who has done business in DC, Orange Co, Portland & N. Ca., I can attest to the costs of the "car culture" (and Chicago is worse than most areas).

I've also noticed that the $5.00/gallon gas prices in the Eeeeuuuuu has given them a more dynamic car market while we are stuck with a decrepit GM. (my B in law is an upper VW exec)

Though difficult to create, the ultra libertarian model of allowing the "true cost" of transportation to be measured (getting rid of or exposing the level of ALL transportation subsidies) would probably change behaviors.

For my part, I'd gladly pay extra for the freedom a car gives me. Further, the dramatically increased cost would get the morons out of the left lane - where I yearn to breathe free.

If there is one tiny area where Germans truly are superior, it's the unlimited speed limit on the autobahn - coupled with their decency to get out of the way of those who wish to drive faster.

Posted by: Bruno at January 2, 2006 1:41 AM

OJ: I see how conservatives could be effective leftists, but I don't see how their faith in the free market and the Republican Party allows them to be such.

I just love it when the word "freedom" is thrown around recklessly. Its a very politically useful word, because it is "free" to be defined in an infinite number of ways; it is abstract to the point of meaninglessness (much like the word "God", or "Love"). So in the modern age the word has always found a plethora of uses and abuses by power. I always feel so free when I'm stuck in traffic, pay high gas prices, get shafted by mechanics, pay insurance/registration/inspection/tax fees, and having to have a car to have a job, and a job to have a car. The freedom to tie a chain around your neck. Guns are about freedom, too. The freedom to take away someone else's freedom. Similarly, the free market system isn't really free (shh..don't tell anyone.)

Posted by: Grog at January 2, 2006 3:30 AM

Bruno: Thank you. I will from now on be sure to remind OJ that, when it comes to trains, he is lobbying for the "ultra libertarian model." As for subsidies, car ownership, driving and the benefits of motor vehicle transport are so diffuse that there aren't any effective subsidies. Even (particularly?) if we don't have cars, we each benefit by about the amount we pay.

Grog: OJ will love your comment. The whole point of the blog is that freedom and security conflict.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 2, 2006 9:38 AM


The idea that a market can be both effective and free is like the belief that species evolve on their own. Nonsense.

Markets and freedom are both just means we use to create decent societies. Where they conflict with that end they are to be limited.

Posted by: oj at January 2, 2006 9:45 AM


Yes, given the choice as a society between subsidizing something destructive of our values, like the car, or consistent with them, like the train, we ought to choose differently than we do right now. The Cold War is over, the military doesn't need highways anymore.

Posted by: oj at January 2, 2006 9:48 AM

You ultra-libertarian, you.

Posted by: David Cohen at January 2, 2006 9:53 AM


One of these days, you are going to have to lay out just how cars - in and of themselves - are "destructive" of our values.

Posted by: Bruno at January 2, 2006 10:11 AM


Here is a good place to start.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at January 2, 2006 11:02 AM

Ah, the "Yes, liberty requires that people be less free" thread. I remember that one.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 2, 2006 12:07 PM

I guess the Nazis had a lot of soul. They were pretty good at getting the Jews on trains.

Posted by: Gary at January 2, 2006 1:56 PM

Liberty always limits freedom.

Posted by: oj at January 2, 2006 2:14 PM

The Nazis used cars to gas Jews.

Posted by: oj at January 2, 2006 2:14 PM

Actually, I have been thinking all morning that I need to modify my comment about railroad mechanics - becoming a good diesel mechanic is a solid thing, and learning to maintain steam engines would be positively angelic in JuddWorld.

Posted by: jim hamlen at January 2, 2006 2:18 PM

As in most things, the law of supply and demand works best, however, when unions get involved and politicians make ridiculous concessions to appease their constituencies, the free market gets bent into pretzel shapes, and we get railroads that need to be subsidized and can't meet the demands made upon them.

Of course long distance freight should be moved by rail, but it won't happen because the teamsters union is more powerful than the U.S. government as baby brother Bobby found out.

It would also be a great idea if there were railroad cars which could conveniently transport us and our cars from point a to point b, but that won't happen either, so I'll keep using my car until individual flying machines come along to replace it.

Take all controls and subsidies from the highway and rail systems. That's fine with me.

Posted by: erp at January 2, 2006 3:02 PM


The Nazis transported them in your lovely trains.

Posted by: Gary at January 2, 2006 6:02 PM

Had there not been cars the train diesels would have done just as nicely as a source of carbon monoxide. Charcoal braziers would have worked too.

Posted by: joe shropshire at January 2, 2006 8:08 PM


The Nazis killed them with car exhaust. It's why decent Jews used to not drive BMWs and Mercedes-Benzs.

Posted by: oj at January 2, 2006 8:39 PM


No, the car exhaust system is uniquely well suited to dealing death.

Posted by: oj at January 2, 2006 8:44 PM


So are the off-tailings from the production of computer equipment, in the right concentrations. But such things are managed.

And don't forget about the Zyklon-B; that's when things in Europe really ramped up.

Posted by: ratbert at January 3, 2006 9:16 AM