Saturday, April 26, 2008

Amtrak to the Coachella Festival

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

It's not strictly HSR, but it's a Saturday night, so indulge me. Organizers have chartered an Amtrak express train from LA to Indio for the Coachella festival, offering free rides for concertgoers to and from Union Station. The LA Times described it as "a decidedly 21st century remix of the classic concert road trip and, more than that, a symbol of the gathering new momentum of the festival as a pop-culture force."

Though the article focuses more on the growth of music festivals than the train, the train itself is worth some further comment. It's a brilliant idea for the festival organizers, helping provide a safer and greener form of transportation out to the desert. And it's damn useful for helping show more Californians just how useful rail travel is. All those riders will come back to LA from their weekend out at Coachella and, after reminiscing about how awesome Prince and Rilo Kiley were, they'll likely talk about how great it was to take a train to and from the festival.

The value of rail travel can seem abstract to those who have never experienced it. For me it was a trip from Madrid to Sevilla on the AVE in 2001 that showed me how transformative HSR could be for a society. Once you get someone on those trains, it shows them that it is a perfectly workable and even desirable method of travel. Of course, folks also point out the shortcomings of rail, from infrequent service to slow trains. High speed rail would solve both those issues as well as many others, making intercity rail travel in California the preferred, most sensible form of travel. The more people who use trains, the more they'll see the need and value of HSR.

Maybe what we need is some outreach on the Coachella Express. Anyone reading us down in SoCal who has a free afternoon and feels like handing out some fliers?!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

testing the comments...