The downside of travel. Transportation challenges abound, especially during the holidays. Failing bridges and highways, diminished train routes and overbooked planes could further disrupt interstate travel. (Photo: Shutterstock)

In an election not many years ago, the motto of one political group, citing the nation’s dire financial situation, was, “It’s the economy, stupid,” which implied that all the political “red herrings” (diversions from facts) were misleading the public from the key issues facing the nation. Now, red herrings take too much news time, while serious issues go unaddressed. It’s time to get on with the real business of government, like funding FEMA and the VA.

The holidays always elicit favorite memories. As a transportation historian, I teach of times before interstates and cellphones, when people traveled by passenger trains to distant states and actually wrote letters to friends and relatives. Instead of flying in a cramped sardine can, we flew in DC-3s, Lockheed Constellations or Boeing Stratacruisers, wearing suits and ties while being served real meals.

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