Thursday, June 06, 2002

Pulling Out of the Station?

The new president of Amtrak has announced that the rail company will cease operation entirely in July if it doesn't get $200 million in loans by the end of the month. While it seems likely they will find the money they need, it leaves one free to imagine a world where this inefficient, cash-sucking monstrosity finally sees a merciful end.

East Coast Senators will howl, no doubt, about the need for the rest of the country to keep the company going so not as to inconvience the relative handful of people in the Boston to Washington, D.C. corridor who actually ride Amtrak, but that must be endured. If the nation's banks are suspicious enough about the company's future, we might see it fall apart entirely and thereby eliminate the annual begging/threatening spectacle as Amtrak officials parade their incompetnece before congressional appropriators while demanding billion dollar subsidies. One example of their trouble: they've mortgaged almost everything they own, including Penn Station in New York. If they default, it could result in the chance-of-a-lifetime real estate auction.


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