Amtrak Blues

The Bush Administration seems set to accomplish what their spiritual predecessors — the Reagan team — could not: the complete destruction of Amtrak.

On September 22, the railroad's board voted to split off the Northeast Corridor's infrastructure and hand it over to a public-private partnership. None of the states involved were consulted ahead of time, and news of the vote only became public because an anonymous tipster alerted the media.

The Northeast Corridor accounts for more than a third of all passengers for Amtrak (9.5m out of 25.4m total) and handing over system operations to the states, while forcing Amtrak to run the trains subject to whatever fiscal and operational constraints the still-to-be-created entity cooks up seems a recipe for confusion at best, disaster at worst.

Billions in bailouts for gas-guzzling airlines. No emission standards for "light trucks" masquerading as family vehicles. Why on earth do Republicans so hate trains?