Bush is once again trying to cut its budget to a mere $900 million (and will likely fail, like he did last year, when asking for that sum got him $1.3 billion appropriated by Congress), and while continuing its (sadly eternal) dying gasps, Amtrak makes the experience of riding the rails even more annoying:
Amtrak will start randomly screening passengers' carry-on bags this week in a new security push that includes officers with automatic weapons and bomb-sniffing dogs patrolling platforms and trains.
The initiative, to be announced by the railroad on Tuesday, is a significant shift for Amtrak. Unlike the airlines, it has had relatively little visible increase in security since the 2001 terrorist attacks, a distinction that has enabled it to attract passengers eager to avoid airport hassles.
Amtrak officials insist their new procedures won't hold up the flow of passengers.
"On-time performance is a key element of Amtrak service. We are fully mindful of that. This is not about train delays," Bill Rooney, the railroad's vice president for security strategy and special operations, told The Associated Press.
Peter Bagge cartoons wickedly on the Amtrak experience, from our Dec. 2005 issue.