Senator Schumer wants to kill Amtrak

For a guy who sees so many of his constituents benefit from a program, New York Senator Charles Schumer doesn’t really seem to care too much for the organization. Indeed, the Senator has been making noise in the past couple weeks that will likely cause irreparable harm to Amtrak, destroying one of the few small advantages America’s national rail company has over air travel. Oh, and just for good measure, the rules he wants to apply are ridiculously unfair to all passengers.

The word is that, among other "security" efforts, Schumer wants to see the Department of Homeland Security expand their Secure Flight program to cover rail travel as well. Secure Flight is the rather un-American program that maintains a secret list of folks considered a threat to air travel. The people are never told that they are necessarily on said list. The details of how one gets listed or, more significantly, how one proves they should not be listed are not public and what little information is available suggests that the process doesn’t really work to help make anything or anyone more secure. Nonetheless Schumer wants to see the program expanded to cover rail travel as well as air travel.

Never mind that one of the justifications the TSA and DHS have used in the past to justify their overly-invasive passenger screening policies is that the passengers always could take a train if they didn’t like the rules. Never mind that the effort would essentially require the creation of TSA-like checkpoints at rail stations, increasing the boarding time and generally making a mess of the process. None of that is important because Schumer sees a potential threat that he believes can be exploited to drive both spending and fear, the latter being the more fun way for folks in charge to stay that way and screw over the public.

So instead of investing money where it can be used to help rail travel in the USA. Instead of working to increase high-speed rail for regional inter-city transport. Instead of investing in actually providing security to any part of the travel experience we have this ridiculous plan. Instead of identifying actual security threats we have this list of names that may or may not mean anything related to security, other than job security for the folks who compile, maintain and perform checks against the list. This plan that does nothing for security. This plan that doesn’t actually identify the people who are really threats because they might find out we know about them. This plan that unduly subjects citizens and visitors alike to a screening process that completely circumvents the principles of our justice system. This plan that will destroy the one last chance we have to make intercity rail travel a legitimate alternative to air travel in the United States.

Thanks, Senator Schumer. Thanks for distracting attention from the real problems. Thanks for fear-mongering instead of providing meaningful and functional plans.

In short, thanks for nothing.

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Seth Miller

I'm Seth, also known as the Wandering Aramean. I was bit by the travel bug 30 years ago and there's no sign of a cure. I fly ~200,000 miles annually; these are my stories. You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.


  1. Of course, the terrorists will steer that train off the tracks and into a highly populated area…;)

  2. The first one we need to kick off flights and trains is Senator Schumer himself.

  3. Let’s unionize the TSA and then put them in charge of admittance to every public facility – every library and courthouse, every mall, movie theater and school, train station, airport, heck, they could hijack a bus, let’s have a no ride list and TSAs at every bus stop.

  4. Stick to pontificating about things you claim you’re knowledgeable about, like air travel.

  5. Good article.
    The only nation I’ve seen TSA like security on the rails was in China. And that was as hellish as you’d imagine it to be.

    Whynot, as you say, have better security upstream of the train station? The onus of security resting on the backs of American passengers has made freedom of movement in these United States less a Right and more a chore.

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