Thursday, September 25, 2008

Riding Rails, Saving Cash, Easing Headaches

I'm on the Acela heading up to Boston today to catch the Red Sox-Indians game at Fenway Park (named this spring as one of The Green Miles' Green Diamonds).

I deliberately planned the trip to minimize cost and maximize convenience. I'm taking the Acela to Boston's Back Bay Station, which is walking distance from my hotel, which is walking distance from Fenway Park. This weekend I'll be staying with my dad in Quincy, MA, on an MBTA bus route that runs at least twice an hour, much more during peak times. So instead of spending $125 for three days of a compact rental car ... plus gas ... plus parking ... I'll spend $20 on fares via a Charlie Card, the T's version of a Metro card.

And oh, I almost forgot, I'll be slashing the carbon footprint of my trip. Here's one (admittedly inexact) graph of carbon dioxide emissions per passenger by transportation source. The flight emissions are actually much worse than ground-level transportation because planes deliver their pollution directly to the upper levels of the atmosphere, where they can do the most damage.

Sure, the train takes a bit longer. But I have my laptop and wireless card and I'm getting work done. I'm enjoying the great views of the Atlantic coast. And I'm avoiding having to deal with airport security and cramming my items into a quart-sized Ziploc bag and squeezing my 6-foot self into a seat made for someone 5-10 or under and the labyrinthine Escape from Logan. What kind of a price tag can we put on those savings?
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