Mass public transportation is seen as a key means to reduce carbon emissions.   Interested parties throughout the world extol the virtues of trains as a means to reduce carbon emissions from automobiles.   I have heard speakers talk in wondrous terms of how a high speed train here or a new commuter line there is far more efficient than travel by private vehicles. 

In Mallorca the train frenzy has reached a ridiculous  stalemate.  Over the last 15 years they have rebuilt the old railway that crosses the island.  I remember the old line and used it on occasion.  I called it affectionately the “Toonerville Trolley.”  It was a single car diesel powered train that chugged slowly across the island from village to village. 

The new line features comfortable commuter trains with four cars each.   Of course there are very prominent places for bicycles in the cars to allow one to have an ecologically correct means to go to and from the train station. 

At present the line has only been rebuilt from Palma to Manacor about 65 kilometers of rambling train line.  As such it does connect the two main cities on the island.  However, Manacor is not a major tourist destination, in spite of being Rafael Nadal´s home town.  So most riders are local folk and not visitors. 

The old line went beyond Manacor to Arta, the town in which my home and community are incorporated.   In the middle of Arta is the old train station and next to it is a large billboard proudly proclaiming that the line from Manacor to Arta is being rebuilt at a cost of Euros 190 million for a section of line that runs 30 kilometers.   To put it into American terms they are spending $280 million to rebuild 18 miles of train or a cost of almost $16 million a mile.  And the line will probably carry about 100 passengers a day over that section. 

When one does the math he is struck by the immense cost of the train line.  But when one compares the cost to the prospective ridership, one is appalled by the ridiculous cost to transport a few people. 

This would be bad enough, but the local papers are filled with controversy over building this last section of the line.  There has been so much opposition that work has been stopped - for the last two years!  White Elephant does not begin to describe this public works debacle. 

Meanwhile intercity buses continue to provide decent transportation from Arta to Manacor and on to Palma.  Tell me again about how wonderful trains are for the environment.