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I prefer traveling by train, rather than airplane, for a few reasons. The tickets are cheaper and the seats are roomier. Amtrak doesn't feel the need to scan my shoes before I board, and I can take along a full-size bottle of shampoo, as well as bottled water purchased at a dollar store, rather than from an airport vendor.
But planes have one huge advantage: speed. Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV ) may have taken some heat after removing actor and director Kevin Smith from a flight because of his size. Passengers may be peeved with luggage fees from airlines including AMR's (NYSE: AMR ) American, Delta (NYSE: DAL ) , and UAL's (Nasdaq: UAUA ) United. And don't forget Ryanair's proposed plan to charge for use of restrooms. (Talk about a captive audience.)
However, we like to get places as quickly as possible. I'm in the minority choosing an 11-hour train ride from Washington, D.C., to an Amtrak station near my hometown in mid-Vermont, instead of a 90-minute flight.
So here's my question: Will grumpy taxpayers someday target the federal government's multimillion-dollar support of Amtrak as an undeserved "bailout"? And what about the $8 billion of earmarks contained in the stimulus package for high speed rail? Shouldn't airlines be allowed to triumph, if that's what paying customers want? For now, I think the government has bigger fish to fry, but rail subsidies won't escape criticism and scrutiny.
Please use the comments section below to chime in with your thoughts.