Amtrak Revamp The affects of the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States are visible in all aspects of life. The American lifestyle has been uprooted. The American sense of homeland security has challenged. One of the most drastic changes has been in the American consumer's faith in the airline industry.
The attacks of September 11 have changed a trip on a commercial jet plane into a gamble. Americans are weary of security of the airline industry as well as in the nation's airports. The uncertainty of air travel has caused a surge in other forms of travel. Since the attacks of September 11, there has been a clear increase in the number of passengers on Amtrak's rail services.
ÃÂ· Around the country ridership is up 8-12% ÃÂ· Ridership is up 25% in the Northeast Corridor alone .
In the wake of the attacks Amtrak needs to take steps to accommodate the growing number of passengers.
These accommodations can be reached by: ÃÂ· More trains ÃÂ· New equipment ÃÂ· High speed rail technology This is outlined in Amtrak's $3.2 billion accelerated funding plan. Half of this proposed funding plan is allotted for this . The plan proposes that implementing all of these changes would make Amtrak trains not only more reliable and convenient but a viable alternative to flying domestic flights. Trains can never fully offer the speed of a jet but they can provide Americans with the option of the highest speed train possible to get to their destination.
In addition to increasing capacity, security must be increased as well. In the midst of the September 11 attacks security is an issue at the forefront of all American's minds. Amtrak must revamp its security procedures to make both its trains and its stations safe for Americans. This can be achieved by: ÃÂ· Verifying tickets with photo identification ÃÂ· Scanning all checked baggage ÃÂ· Increasing police presence ÃÂ· Search and seizure of all unattended luggage ÃÂ· Ban on train ticket purchasing in all regions ÃÂ· Install bomb and metal detectors in train stations ÃÂ· Secure tunnels and tracks Some of these security measures are outlined in Amtrak's $3.2 billion proposal. Roughly $531 million is proposed for bomb detection technology, increasing existing surveillance, and adding 150 police officers to Amtrak's national accredited police force . The balance of this list could be implemented by personal already employed by Amtrak.
Furthermore, Amtrak should make the area directly surrounding the trains a secure environment. This can be achieved by prohibiting non-passengers (otherwise people without tickets) access to the trains. All people wishing to gain access to the train must have a ticket, valid identification, and have their belongings passed through a metal detector.
In addition, Amtrak must fortify all of their tracks and tunnels. $1 billion of the proposed $3.2 billion is allotted for this . This will make tunnels on the East Coast safer and more secure. Eventually all tunnels and tracks across the U.S. will be fortified as a precautionary measure.
In the wake increasing security there is the issue of convenience. Americans do not like to wait in line. While queuing cannot be completely eliminated in any environment, there are ways in which to make traveling a little easier. Amtrak passengers who do not wish to check baggage still have the option to purchase tickets from the Quick Tracks machines with their credit cards. This will allow these passengers to bypass the ticket lines and head directly to the security checkpoint to gain access to the train. These passengers will still have to verify their ticket with photo identification as well as pass any carryon through a metal detector.
While the nation is still reeling from the attacks of September 11, we can rest assured that the government is doing all that is in its power to get life back to normal in the United States. Things will never be exactly the same as they were before the attacks, in some senses they may be better. Amtrak is doing its best to insure this. Now the U.S. government needs to approve this proposal to get America swiftly and safely back on its feet.