Tuesday, December 09, 2008

I don't know why Amtrak does not offer wireless Internet.

The train is a fine way to get places, except when it isn't. Yesterday's trip from New York to Boston, which should have taken four hours, took five and a half because of an hour's delay in leaving and unexplained slowness through much of Connecticut.

Nowhere during this time -- not in Penn Station, where for once I was early and wound up waiting two hours, or anywhere along the trip -- did I have access to Internet service. I'd have paid for it; I'd have logged on at a kiosk, if one had been available.

How can this be, if Amtrak is trying to market itself as the alternative to airline shuttles for the business traveler?

It's downright embarrassing, especially when what Amtrak does advertise is its Railfone service -- look, you can make a phone call from the train, using Amtrak's own credit card-operated phone booths! That was a technological advance in 1989, when most people didn't have cell phones; that Amtrak continues to offer this service as anything but an emergency safety measure is laughable.

Amtrak is a vast bureaucracy with no meaningful competition, and therefore neither equipped nor motivated to operate in a competitive way. But when even buses now offer wireless Internet, it doesn't seem a lot to ask.


Anonymous said...

The Downeaster between Portland and Boston has some kind of wireless. You would think that the rest would as well.


Anonymous said...

Any comments on Stephen Kings "best books of 2008" in EW?


AnswerGirl said...

I would never contradict Stephen King on anything, and I'm always interested in other people's top 10 lists.

Of his 10, though (really 11), I've only read three (or four): Larsson's GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, Chelsea Cain's two books, and Stef Penney's THE TENDERNESS OF WOLVES. I was impressed with WOLVES, thought TATTOO was okay, and loathed both of Cain's books with a virulence that makes me want to spit even now.

I'll post my own top ten sometime before the end of the month.