By Roger, age 11
Wow. I am confused. I found a toy bus labelled “Long Island Rail Road”. Surely, this is a mistake, right? So I decided to do some research. I looked up “Long Island Rail Road”.
Their website states: “The Long Island Rail Road is the busiest commuter railroad in North America, carting approximately 200,000 customers each weekday on 947 daily trains.” They go on to say that the LIRR is the “oldest United States railroad still operating under its original name and charter.” In fact, it turns out the LIRR was formed in 1834 and is called Rail Road – yes, two words, as the dictionary had yet to make railroad one word.
Anyway, so the LIRR does exist. It is a real railroad. A big railroad. A respected railroad. So what is with the buses?
I did a search for railroad buses. Turns out lots of railroads had buses. The railroads saw bus services as their biggest competition. In the 1930s and 40s, many railroads bought or rented buses. They were used to connect lines that did not have track connections. It was a temporary fix. By the 1950s, most U.S. railroads had stopped their bus service.
They had concluded their biggest competitor was not buses, but private cars. People like the comfort of their own vehicle. Yet trains had the speed advantage. They are not as fast as planes, but even that is changing as bullet trains pushing speeds over 100 miles an hour are being developed all around the world.
Then comes along the LIRR. They started bus service in 1963. They bought four brand new air-conditioned buses, painted them like my toy, and put them into service. Get this: With the added bus service, they discontinued two lightly used train lines.
Railroads all started cutting service. They were losing money and by 1970, the government had to step in. A nationwide passenger service company called Amtrak was formed. It took over most of the passenger service.
It took Amtrak several years to really get going. They were given all the old equipment from all the different passenger lines. Many cars had no air-conditioning, were dirty and needed replacing.
The LIRR on the other hand was not sold to Amtrak, but it was sold… In 1966, LIRR became a part of the government-controlled Metropolitan Commuter Transportation Authority. So they were not absorbed in the Amtrak conversion.
So it seems my Toy Bus is made to look like a real Railroad Bus – or should I say Rail Road Bus? That is cool. Do you think I should get an Amtrak Bus next?