OPINION COLUMNS

Planes, trains and change

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, June 23, 2018
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Soon I’ll be leaving Wise County behind and moving to Houston, and I’ve been thinking a lot about planes and trains.

Racey Burden

No, this isn’t my goodbye column. That comes two weeks from now, on my actual last day. But it’s as good a time as any to announce to those who care to read my columns that this is the second-to-last one. I’ll save the tearful goodbyes and thanks for later. Right now I want to talk about transportation.

I’ve been thinking about planes because, well, that’s what I’m leaving the Messenger for. I’ll be attending flight school in Houston in the fall. It’s a decision that’s been creeping up on me for about eight months, since I got my private pilot license last October (much to the chagrin of my professional pilot father, who even staged an “intervention” with his pilot friends to convince me to go to school). It’s a 180 of a career move, but one I’m looking forward to. I still plan to write for fun. Maybe I’ll finally finish that novel now.

But I find flying fascinating, and I always have. It’s kind of crazy – we take these tubes with wings up in the air and then travel in them across the world. Knowing the science behind it, you know it’s not so mad – but it’s still cool. And it’s the fastest way to travel long distances, connecting people from continent to continent. Where would we be without the power of flight?

But while planning the move to Houston, I’m starting to get real interested in this high-speed train project.

I don’t mean this as a betrayal to my future airline employers because traveling by plane will still be necessary due to the vastness of the U.S., but trains are so convenient – if they run regularly. Europe has that figured out. They take trains everywhere, riding from city to city and country to country. Japan is the home of the bullet train, the technology that will be used in this Dallas-to-Houston route.

I’ve always lamented the lack of cheap, fast train travel in this part of the U.S. Sure, there’s an Amtrak that runs to Oklahoma, but I’d get there faster if I drove. I’m thinking about the four-hour drive to Houston, though, and that 90-minute train from Dallas to Houston proposed by Texas Central is looking pretty good right now.

Of course, the project is still in the planning phase. Depending on weather, I’ll only be in Houston six to eight months for school. I probably won’t get to use the high-speed train, which is a bummer. But it’s something for North and South Texas to look forward to in the future.

Planes, trains and fewer long automobile rides – that’s something I can get behind.

Racey Burden is a Messenger reporter

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