23 September 2005

Latest on Rita

American Airlines just posted on its website that Dallas-Ft. Worth International Airport may experience delays due to rain and winds. I'll hope for the best - in any case, as long as I arrive at my hotel by 7AM on Sunday the 25th, I will be okay (though dead tired).

Another disaster is brewing, it seems, given the difficulties of evacuating the entire city of Houston. Given that the US transportation system is heavily dependent on private automobiles - which choke up the interstate highways fast - and airplanes - which get grounded fast in a disaster like this - its deficiencies are painfully clear. If another terrorist attack (nuclear, biological, or else) happens, the entire city is doomed to die with no way out.

There was a reason why the interstates were built. There was a reason why the feds created Amtrak to take over ailing passenger railroads. Trains are especially efficient at moving massive numbers of people, and if Texas had a semi-decent passenger train system (it doesn't even have to be of European quality), much of the difficulties in evacuating Houston could have been alleviated. It's a shame that the only way out of Houston is in a single-occupant Suburban, with no way to even refuel. And I don't see a much better way out of Los Angeles myself.

Time to re-shuffle transportation priorities for homeland security, instead of limiting Americans' freedoms. Why not, for example, re-allocate a tiny fraction of the war budget to Amtrak, so that it can be of actual use, in times like these and in more peaceful times?