Seems like most everyday of late, Side drives down Station Avenue in the vibrantly beating heart of our bustling and dynamic downtown economy. And nearly every time, the Maine Eastern (MERR) summer tourist train is parked at the station.
Oddly, whenever we’ve checked, which we did again today, the locomotive isn’t idling; it’s completely shut off. No noise, no vibrations, no putrid diesel fumes to ingest via nasal and oral cavities, or to burn the eyes.
How can this be, we wonder, when NNEPRA insists that Amtrak Downeaster locomotives they operate MUST IDLE at all times when not in motion. And five hours or more of that idling takes place in local neighborhoods, including those right in the center of town, just yards away from all sorts of houses and apartments, and the local hunger prevention facility that serves meals and critical food supplies to those who need them. Not to mention any number of local business establishments, including those who serve as a primary source of food products.
We know there are several experts on the subject who dwell among us, and who have direct communications links with the oracles of the Downeaster, and their factotums in the TrainRiders Northeast congregation. So we expect a cogent and responsive answer to our query, and will publish it here if and when offered and signed.
Come to think of it, we can’t help but wonder whether local conditions wouldn’t be far better if MERR was the operator of the Brunswick to Portland run. We suspect they might jump at the chance, since it would give them a far more viable business base, with year round operations. With all the contemporary emphasis on ‘locavores,’ ‘farm to table,’ ‘local sourcing,’ shopping lcoally and such, it seems like an approach the more sensitive in our midst could really get behind. Unless they’re simply hypocrites like all the rest of such zealots.
What’s not to like? Lower carbon footprint, cleaner local air, supporting local businesses, and all the other buzzwords of the day.
There is a fatal flaw in our suggestion, of course, and you may have already guessed it. Changing the operator of the Portland North link would put a famous, highly awarded “business professional” in a squeeze….a tight place, if you will. Don’t you just hate it when a conflict of visions comes into the mix?
We can’t have that, can we? Shame on us for such heresy. We should be sentenced to standing within 100 ft of a shiny, idling Downeaster engine for 5 hours as an act of contrition.
We’ll do so if Patsy and St. Wayne promise to join hands and stand with us. We’ll even let them both wear shower caps to protect their coifs. We, of course, have no such vulnerability.