Trains in snow

Wednesday was our second day in a row with snow. It hasn’t been a lot of snow, only a couple inches per day, but it’s made commuting a complete mess and a pain. Tuesday it took me over an hour and a half to get into my office in Saint Paul. However, on Wednesday I was able to go to my Minneapolis office, and take the commuter rail in to town. It reminded me again how great rail transit is compared to bus traffic.

In a snow event, buses are subject to all the other traffic and traction issues that affect cars. It doesn’t really matter that buses can use the shoulder to drive on, or the diamond lanes. In a snowstorm these lanes aren’t tremendously faster, or even passable. However, a train can keep going on a track at the same speed in almost any conditions. I’m sure many of you have seen the cool video of a train busting through snow. They just keep going.

There are times I take the train in to Saint Paul during bad weather, even though it takes an hour and a half. It’s the same amount of time, no matter the conditions, and it makes everything very predictable. We need more rail transit in our cities, and less reliance on buses that get stuck in the same bad situation when the weather turns even mildly rotten.

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