Not from inside the Redmond Reality Distortion Field: Microsoft Streets and Trips support for ferries

Raymond Chen

The Washington State Ferry System is the largest in the United States and the second-largest in the world, but ferries are generally speaking not really a big thing in most parts of the United States. When you asked Microsoft Streets and Trips to generate a trip, one of the options was whether you wanted to include ferries. For one of my colleagues who lived in Texas, this struck him as oddly amusing. “There are boats that carry cars?”

It turns out that this was, for once, not a case of the Redmond Reality Distortion Field. What ultimately became the Streets and Trips product was acquired in 1994 from NextBase, and in England, ferries are kind of a big deal. So what you really have is the England Reality Distortion Field.


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  • a name 0

    Sure, this is a reasonable way to get a car across a small body of water. I am a Brit and I dated a nice Texan girl, and she flew across the ocean to visit me but had never actually seen the sea. So of course we went and dipped our toes.

    Raymond, I have once or twice wanted to post suggestions but there seem to be just a few old “suggestion posts” where comments are closed. Maybe I am missing something and you periodically accept requests and then close the gates. But if that is true, could you make this clear from your blog’s front page? Thanks; and I’ve enjoyed your writing for years. Can’t remember how long ago I bought your book.

  • Rob Keeney 0

    The only ferry I’ve used is in Galveston, TX

    • Brian MacKay 0

      And that ferry is part of a state highway (and, as a result is free). Like the Peugeot Sound ferries, it’s over salt water; Texas does have a sea coast.

  • Michael Spam 0

    We in England (and France I suppose) also have trains that carry cars. Google or Bing: euro tunnel car
    Mind blown no doubt.

    • Todd C 0

      Hardly. The US has had auto trains 20 years before you did, in the 1970s. It makes sense due to the need of having a car in many metro areas, particularly vacation spots in Florida. They even let you carry trailers with boats, campers (caravans), and other recreational equipment. Search term: Amtrak Auto Train.

      Besides that, the US has a much better freight rail network than Europe, and particularly the UK does. The loading gauge in the US allows an entire truck trailer to be simply driven onto a flat railcar. It is said that most UPS ground packages that travel over 500 miles have such an intermodal rail segment.

      • Danielix Klimax 0

        If Motorail began in USA in 70s, then Germans have you beaten by some years (1930 Deutsche Reichsbahn).

        As for freight rail network, evidence? (And even if true, it is at extreme expense of passenger service)

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