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3-C Passenger Rail - Something to Sleep On

The debate over the proposed 3-C passenger r rail system is intense. Supporters argue the project would bring new jobs and boost Ohio's economy. Opponents argue passenger rail is a waste of tax-payer money and a testament of the inability to have European-like transportation systems within the U.S. Yet, as I listen to both sides, I can't help but think of a large benefit of the proposed train: the chance to take a nap.

When traveling for vacations as a child, I remember excitedly boarding a plane, ready to spend the next few hours coloring with my parents, only to find them both conked out and lightly snoring before the plane even left the gate. As a kid, their behavior perplexed me. Flying was exciting! Why would they sleep? It was not until I reached adulthood that I realized the incredible gift a plane trip provides travelers: the chance to take a two hour catnap. Granted, I always de-board a plane a bit disheveled, bashfully wiping drool off the corners of my mouth. But I always feel rested. And in a culture where every minute is planned and our days are spent hurrying from one activity to another, those two-hour catnaps are important. So the proposed train provides the exact same benefits of a plane trip: a restful sleep and a relaxed mind.

A main argument against the rail system is the fact that the average train speed will be a mere 39 miles an hour. This means that while driving from Cincinnati to Cleveland takes about 4 hours, riding the train would take about six and a half. . Clearly that is a significant time difference. And it does not make much sense to choose a longer travel option when a shorter one is available. But realistically, driving Four hours is exhausting. Even if you pack a snack bag and blast some music to feign boredom, you still feel depleted of energy when you reach your destination. Coupled with the potential for car trouble, traffic, and the inevitable bathroom breaks, a four hour trip can become as draining as an excursion to the mall on Black Friday. Yet, traveling by train allows for the opportunity to take that allusive catnap. 2 and a half hours seems like a lot to add on to an already long trip. But a few hours of sitting, relaxing, and catching up on sleep while humming along Amish country? Now that sounds like a good time.

I doubt passenger trains would replace car trips up I- 71. And sure, you can get to Grandma's faster by driving. But think of how much happier Grandma will be when you arrive rested and relaxed after spending the past few hours dreaming of mai tais on the beach? Tacking on extra time to a trip is not very appealing. Yet, given that today's society is so hectic and work-obsessed, the prospect of enjoying a little catnap might just convince some sleep-deprived Ohioans to opt for the train instead of the Toyota.