Last week, for our Travel Guide, we published a lighthearted package of stories about traveling to various destinations by train, which somehow—and this really took us back a bit—managed to seriously piss some people off.

We’ll begin with Lewis Beale, who took exception to Brian Howe’s piece on his trip to Philadelphia: “Your issue on train travel was one of the most clueless things you have ever done, particularly Brian Howe’s comment that ‘the locomotive is one of those machines, like the piano, that got as good as it could get a long time ago, and then never changed.’ Really? Has Brian ever been on a high-speed train in Europe or Japan? On ViaRail in Canada? How about the Acela between D.C. and New York? Does Brian know that one of the major problems with rail in the U.S. is that freight lines own the tracks, so commuter rail has to give way to them? That Congress has at best been lukewarm to rail funding? You could have done a really good job explaining why rail service in the U.S. is substandard but doesn’t have to be, but you opted for a totally superficial look at the issue. Hope you’re proud of your coverage. NOT.” (Are not jokes a thing again?)

On a kind of similar tip, here’s Chris Forsyth: “A pox on Mr. Howe’s rail riding skills. As one who has crossed the U.S. from west to east by train, I say Mr. Howe missed the bus with his petulant description of his Philly trip. The thrill of train riding is meeting and talking to extraordinary people, especially the liars. He leaves this point to the last and then doesn’t tell us a thing beyond a few words about those folks he met.”

Howe wasn’t the only target of readers’ opprobrium. So, too, was Allison Hussey, who took the train from Durham to Raleigh for a day trip that prompted her to long for a rail-friendly future. A commenter going by Wait…what? called her story “another light-rail puff piece, disguised as a story about heavy rail from an elitist viewpoint. Really, your story on heavy rail reads like light-rail transit soft porn and your sojourn to the Capital Club 16 smacks of a shallow view of the world. It’s [as] revealing as your $25 Uber ride home for the sake of time convenience and was obviously dropped in there to point out Uber is more expensive. Sadly, the point is lost, because it fails to point out the obvious difference between hub-to-hub and point-to-point transit. Sheesh, Allison, don’t you get it?”

Commenter Mike Mitchell1 calls the American rail system a “national embarrassment”: “My wife and I ride the Amtrak Silver Star regularly to Florida to see my father. We have no choice, as a medical ailment negates flying as an option. We conjured up an enthusiastic motto for Amtrak to fly by: ‘When You Absolutely, Positively, Don’t Have to Be There on Time.’ In my recollection, it has been on time only once in several decades of our using it. On that occasion, we wrote to Ripley’s Believe It or Not.”

“Raleigh has had, for a long time, a huge problem with transportation,” adds NC Silver Bear. “Basically, if you don’t have a car, you can’t get anywhere very easily. We’re slow, very slow, both in transportation and in change. North Carolina is a backward state. Between the state, the county, and the city, a capital city no less, although we are blessed with plentiful resources, we don’t have power brokers in our governments who know how to drive us into today’s modern transportation corridors, much less future needs. We’re so very tedious in our debating, funding, planning, and executing transportation improvements that we never get anything done until it’s already out of date. I don’t look for this to change any time soon. Not with the way our governments choose to do things. It’s going to take a monumental shift in mind-sets and thinking.”

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