LONGVIEW, TX (KLTV) - Many East Texans are traveling for the holidays, and it seems more and more are electing to ride rather than drive. It's one of the busiest times of year for Amtrak.
At 8 a.m. at the Longview Station they're lined up and are ready to sit for a while. And like most Amtrak riders, Rebecca Hinton and Reggie Jones don't know each other, but they have similar ideas. Rebecca's going to Fort Worth.
"I am going to spend the week with my boyfriend," Hinton said.
Reggie's going to San Antonio for Thanksgiving with family.
"I've always taken the train down there and it's a comforting, relaxing trip," Jones stated.
Reggie's a repeat roller. Rebecca however has:
"Never ridden the train. This is my first time on the train," she revealed.
Reggie has ridden for about seven years for several reasons.
"No speed traps to worry about, gasoline or vehicle breaking down or anything like that," Jones said.
They're leaving the driving to someone else so they can do other things.
"I'm thinking I'm probably going to take a nap, maybe," Hinton laughed.
Reggie may do the same on the old school ride.
"It's old but that's basically the way I am, anyway. I have a hard time with change," Jones admitted.
For Rebecca, this is change, but she and her boyfriend have plans to make it a regular thing.
"Going down to California and going down to the coast. He's ridden it several times. He thinks it's great," Hinton said.
But the train is running late because of construction up the line.
"Oh, is it? Oh, well we got here in time," Hinton stated.
"Well, this isn't my first rodeo, so I'm somewhat used to it," Jones said.
But the riders, including Rebecca and Reggie, use the time to get to know each other, and before you know it:
"All Aboard!" shouted a conductor.
It's not as fast as driving a car, but if you have the time, you may cross paths with someone who could become a friend.
"But, you never know what's down the tracks. Only the Good Lord knows," Jones said.
Oddly enough the two ended up in the same train car. They all are different people going different places sharing time on the same train. And the station empties, biding its time until other strangers gather and perhaps strike up a friendship on journeys to different destinations.
The Texas Eagle is usually nearly sold out the week of Thanksgiving, although they say there may still be a few bargain seats out there, particularly on Thanksgiving Day. Griff Hubbard, Longview Station Revenue Manager, says although the official numbers aren't in yet, ridership appears to be up from last year.