Passenger rail company Amtrak declared at a press conference this morning that they plan to forgo the traditional "wheels on rails" model of rail transit and instead move to the "ants on rails" method that has gained popularity in rural Yemen, urban Zimbabwe, and the entire nation of Italy.
The "ants on rails" method of rail transit involves no wheels whatsoever. Instead, legions of ants--usually carpenter ants--are glued, in long, rail-shaped phalanxes, to the underside of each rail car. The scent of sugar is sprayed on the tracks in the direction that the train needs to go, and the ants march. The ants know to stop when they have reached the sugar, which is placed at their destination. This method of rail travel averages about 1 mile per hour.
In a world of high-speed rail, the "ants on rails" method--often mocked as "low speed rail"--can seem silly and counterintuitive. However, the costs are so low, and the ride is so smooth and quiet, that many passengers find they prefer it.
"Wheels are expensive and loud, and frankly, totally industrial-stupid and not green," said an Amtrak spokesperson at the press conference.
The first route to be changed over to the new method is the Northeast Corridor. Commuters between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. can look forward to train rides that last entire weeks.