Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Wi-Fi on the Train? Why Yes!

Wi-Fi notification sticker in window of Amtrak Cascades train.

Research for an upcoming article took me to the Tacoma library today, with all travel accomplished by Amtrak Cascades service and some walking. Amtrak has been touting its new Wi-Fi service aboard the Cascades and I'm pleased to note that it worked very well on both trains 500 and 509. It also meant that I could both take today's photo and publish it to my blog without so much as needing to leave my seat. Interestingly enough, the service supposedly works much better in the coaches than it does in the bistro or dining car, and that's by design. Northwesterners accustomed to long computer stints in area coffee shops were staying too long in the bistro and dining cars' limited seating, to the point that passengers actually wanting to eat something didn't have a place to sit.

The day itself has been very satisfactory. The research was less than I'd hoped for, but I did turn up a couple of useful nuggets. Best of all was the way I traveled today -- walking a mile from home to the Amtrak station in Oregon City, riding the train to Tacoma, walking the two miles from the Tacoma station to the library with a stop lunch, walking back with a stop for coffee, and now riding the train home. It reminds me of Japan, and the surprising discovery of freedom in travel without a car.

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