Thursday, March 16, 2006

Amtrak Near Death But Not Suicidal

Perhaps the Amtrak board has collectively consumed enough Prozac to keep them irrationally optimistic about Amtrak's future. (Consumer Warning: The link above does not necessarily take you to a site created by the manufacturer of Prozac, a product and registered trademark of Eli Lilly and Company.)

Perhaps the Amtrak board has collectively smoked enough New Mexico desert vegetation to take them to the same place. If they got it from somewhere near Trinity Site, there is a new movie out last week that will suggest reasons to stop smoking it. (None of the vegetation is registered or copyrighted. Side effects may be similar.)

But I digress.

Our point is this: Amtrak has recently undertaken two projects that suggest that Amtrak will continue to exist, and this is despite the fact that all Amtrak board members have their noses firmly planted in George Bush's butt crack.

We know that the trend these days is to put a bunch of money into projects just before a corporation goes bankrupt or sells out. It's only to reduce the value of the whole property enough to squeeze as much as possible out of the creditors.

Those of us who are optimistic about passenger rail would like to think that the rebuilding of the Thames River bridge in Connecticut and the opening of a boutique hotel in the Amtrak-owned station in Baltimore, MD, are both subtle indications that the board thinks Amtrak will be around in a few years when the projects are finished.

The first of these projects, the bridge, requires Amtrak to commit to service adjustments for the duration of the project. The other, the hotel, requires Amtrak to work with developers and sign a long-term lease for the property. In the end, both require a suspension of disbelief similar to what one has to have when viewing a movie to keep from saying, "It's only a movie."

In the case of Amtrak, we have to stop ourselves from saying, "It's only Amtrak." The whole country, including Congress and (yes - count 'em) seven administrations, has been saying that for years. If we would all get our collective heads out of our butts (and the Amtrak board's out of the president's), maybe we could be saying, "It's Amtrak! Ain't it a great railroad!"

© 2006 - C. A. Turek - mistertrains@gmail.com
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