To the editor:
Hi. I was one of the people riding motorcars on your excellent railroad in July. In spite of David Bank's commentary, I felt very welcomed. Just two corrections to his commentary: A railroad motorcar is a little cheaper than a snowmobile to own and operate. You still have to spend money in the area on hotels, food and drink (although not less than eight hours before operating a motorcar - safety first!)
Also, because New York state taxes railroad property so highly, most short lines in the state are running on municipally-owned tracks. As a trails advocate myself, I cannot imagine making enemies of every smaller railroad in New York state by threatening to go through the political process to rip up their tracks. It seems unwise, but most of what the Adirondack Recreational Trail Advocates proposes seems unwise.
I have ridden nearly every rail-trail in New York state. The only ones that see any significant use are the ones in high population areas. When I rode 50 miles of the Genesee Valley Greenway two weeks ago, I encountered no bicycle riders, and only four Amish boys fishing (similar loneliness was felt on previous rides). When I rode the Catskill Scenic Trail, I only saw two other people and they were both in villages. On the Ontario Pathways Trail, nobody at all.
ARTA's claims for trail ridership do not jibe with my experience. I don't believe them. Unfortunately, if people do believe them, and the railroad gets ripped up, and the promised trail riders don't show up, we won't have a railroad either. We'll just have a long path through the woods with a high maintenance cost. Eventually taxpayers will get tired of paying for the counties to mow it and trim brush, and it will go back to being forever wild - which is I suppose the real goal of ARTA.