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Amtrak - A Question of Priorities

Les Aaron
Editor, Hubgram

Why can Bush find an estimated $248 billion for an anti-missile shield that is unproven, has failed rigged tests and may not be delivered for another twenty years - yet he cannot find one one-thousandth of that amount to keep our premier rail line running?

If Amtrak shut down today, it would not only derail 60,000 daily customers, it would inconvenience hundreds of thousands who commute to work over local trains using Amtrak lines.

There is something fundamentally wrong in supporting favorite causes through a subjective lens and failing to do the right thing when there is a certain and immediate imperative. This seems to be symptomatic of an administration that can't seem to get its ducks in a line or its priorities straight. In this case, the right thing is helping out citizens who depend on Amtrak.

It goes without saying that every advanced country on this planet takes pride in having a reliable rail system. Despite the fact that inventions developed here to advance rail travel - like fuzzy logic and mag-lev - were first adopted overseas because of our shortsightedness, we cannot afford to turn our back on our principal carrier nor fail to invest whatever it takes to meet the transportation challenges of today and tomorrow as well.

Any administration that wants to leave a legacy must recognize the necessity of having an inexpensive and reliable mass transportation system in place.

Further, it is ill advised to invest billions of dollars in a system that we know doesn't work, that we don't need, won't be delivered for twenty years and would only then only be targeted at so-called terrorist nations that currently do not have the technology to deliver weapons of mass destruction to this country.

According to the Pentagon, a missile attack ranks lasts among those potential threats to the U.S. On the other hand, the failure to fund Amtrak would constitute a threat to hundreds of thousands of jobs, increase dependence on an already over-burdened airlines system--which incidentally we managed to find $14 billion to bail out--and further distance those who depend on this transportation system for work. It would also increase dependency on the automobile to further complicate an already stressed system while helping to further segregate rich from poor-- which seems to be the whole point of the Bush administration.

Copyright 2002 Hubgram