The four top supercars

Wired Magazine has released a list of the four top Supercars – that is, cars that go at least 200 mph. Also, cars that have “the ability to attract a parade of local law enforcement.” Hey, never hurts. Here’s a quick recap of the list.

  1. Ferrari F430 – $186,925 – one of the best handling cars, but also one of the slower ones (tops out at 196).
  2. Dodge Viper SRT10 – $88,875 – the cheapest of the bunch and also one of the most fuel efficient. Unfortunately, it’s also noisy and difficult to get in and out of. Top speed of 202 mph.
  3. Bentley Continental GT Speed – $203,600 – ridiculously comfortable inside and nice paint job, according to Wired, but also heavy and lacks a sunroof. Like the Viper, tops out at 202 mph.
  4. Lamborghini Murcielago LP640 – $339,400 – hey, what can you say? It’s a Lamborghini. Expensive, fast, nice engine and easily maneuvered. Also, noisy, and not the most comfortable ride. Hits 211 mph.

So, which one are you going to buy?

Dispatches from around the world

Sculpture removed from British rail station, is apparently too “challenging”

What, a sculpture depicting a man about to fall under a moving train is too much for you? Well, in that case, I guess it’s now safe to visit England, where such a sculpture has just been cancelled in the plans of London’s St. Pancreas station – which, by the way, is being renovated into the new home for Eurostar services to Paris and beyond.

The sculpture is actually of a man falling under a train car, being driven by the Grim Reaper. Its creator, Paul Day, says that it was meant to evoke the risks, challenges and fears that train drivers face during a typical day. While it is, I must admit, a rather noble purpose, I don’t blame the train drivers’ union and families of suicide victims for complaining that it is far too insensitive for public display. Station spokesman Ben Ruse said that while the company welcomed the “challenging” work, it would not be approved for final display in the station.

(Via AP)

Amtrak updates long-distance dining car menus, rich passengers rejoice

Amtrak’s long-distance, full-service dining cars are something of an oddity in… well, just about every way. You have a skeleton crew trying to perform full restaurant-style service down the equivalent of an airplane aisle in the midst of light-to-moderate turbulence that comes and goes as it pleases. Since the dining car typically opens at a specified time for dinner, Amtrak’s chefs have to cook and plate upwards of 100 meals in about an hour or so, in the same conditions.

And then there’s the clientele that all this cacophony has to cater to: a very strange blend of relatively well-off Sleeping Car passengers combined with whomever from coach decides that they want to splurge on an upscale-ish meal. The interesting thing is that people get along. There’s something about being on a dining car cruising across the open landscape that makes travelers want to mingle, chat, and generally have a good time. The whole operation is a remarkable experience to watch, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, and – at least in my opinion – an absolutely delightful way to spend a meal. Where else can you eat good food, chat with your fellow travelers in a relaxed setting, and watch the beautiful countryside roll by?

And, yes, I didn’t mistype when I said that Amtrak’s food is good. While meals are pre-packaged when delivered to the train, everything is cooked fresh on-board by trained chefs in a galley and delivered to passengers by the wait staff. Hey, just like a real restaurant! Unfortunately, the Dining Car experience is rather pricey (though included in the ticket price if you’re traveling in a Sleeping Car), and Amtrak’s latest menu refresh (PDF link) is no different. On the bright side, regional specialties have returned that vary depending on which train you’re riding, such as Texas BBQ Beef Brisket on the New Orleans – Los Angeles Sunset Limited or “Phillips Seafood Coastal Crab cakes in Floridian green chile tomatillo sauce” on the New York – Florida Silver Service. And, of course, you get all of the typical restaurant-style meals on all trains, such as omelets and french toast for breakfast, burgers, salads and sandwiches for lunch, and steak, seafood and pasta for dinner.

Riding in an Amtrak dining car really is a unique thing to do if you have the time for it. Continuously-changing scenery, friendly fellow travelers and good food makes for a one-of-a-kind dining experience. You know, if you feel like paying for it.

(Via NARP)

NYC subway fan arrested for 26th time, shows true dedication

I’ll admit that I enjoy learning about mass transit, and I am probably what you might classify as a “rail enthusiast.” This, however, is a trifle extreme. 43-year-old Darius McCollumn was arrested in New York’s Penn Station Sunday night for “impersonating a transit employee.” That was, indeed, his 26th arrest by transit police, the first of which occurred when he was 15 years old and involved him taking an E-line train full of passengers for a 6-stop joyride. More recently, in 2004 he was found by Long Island Rail Road police in its Jamaica, NY rail yards carrying several official transit keys and an employee uniform, while just earlier this year he was arrested for attempting to enter a restricted area in Columbus Circle, wearing another employee uniform.

Defenders of the man claim that he suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, though this has never been conclusively proven. He’s never been jailed for long because, despite trespassing and other minor crimes, he’s never hurt or put anyone in real danger. Meanwhile, in a story for the New York Daily News, McCollumn’s mother (whom he lives with in North Carolina) says that she isn’t surprised that he got arrested again, and that he went to New York on his own despite her warnings not to. See, now that’s dedication.

NYC subways are slow… and getting slower

That’s according to the latest NYC Transit data, at least, which covers the past three years of service. The New York Post points out that while the days of broken-down cars and graffiti-filled stations, at least, is long gone, there is a significant trend downwards in the quality and reliability in subway services. Through June this year, the average number of delayed trains is up 24% from last year, and a whopping 71% from two years ago. Meanwhile, the average distance that rail cars travel between break-downs is down 7% from last year and 17% from two years ago.

NYC Transit blames the issues on more track work, rising ridership and decreasing income from federal and state sources. Unfortunately, none of those problems really seem to be going away – and NYC Transit is not the only organization battling the dangerous forces of system troubles. As gas prices increase, ridership on mass transit systems around the world is going up. Also, subway systems are not getting any younger. Many of the world’s oldest transit networks have already passed the 100-year mark – some by a lot (London’s Underground, the oldest subway system in the world, started service in 1863). Without adequate funding and support from the traveling public, mass transit systems will just keep getting less and less reliable.

(Via Gothamist)