Letters to the Editor: Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner is a relic. Rebuild and electrify it.
Tuesday, May 21, 2011
As Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner makes its final journey from San Francisco to Seattle, we commend the California Department of Transportation for keeping our highways safe, and for ensuring that we are safe when boarding or exiting the trains.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Amtrak is a government-funded company and that the taxpayer-funded company that runs the trains is in turn funded by taxpayer dollars.
When it comes to Amtrak’s safety record and its ability to remain viable by providing passenger rail service, this is what I have seen for the last 40 years.
I’ve seen trains hit their emergency brakes and other cars hit their emergency brakes. I’ve seen them break down and the engines or the locomotives hit the buffers and destroy them. I’ve seen a whole lot of things and Amtrak is lucky to be alive.
The Amtrak passenger agency is a living and breathing animal. It has a very long memory and a lot of energy. We’ve been here before and we’ve known all along that Amtrak is not going to be around forever. It is going to have to work harder, be more creative and better serve the public it serves.
So my question to the California Department of Transportation is: when Amtrak makes its official last trip, can they please find a way to make it better for passengers and for the passengers of all trains who use it?
You know what is a real problem with the Pacific Surfliner? It is a relic. There are plenty of cars and buses and commercial vehicles that are still running with diesel engines that are more capable than the Amtrak locomotive and it’s an all-around waste of tax dollars when we are talking about a federal government-funded company that is the backbone of Amtrak and the system we are so lucky to be allowed to ride on.
The company is going to have to work much harder when it comes to safety practices and operations. And there is a need for it to become a viable and more capable company that can compete with commercial-based companies that also operate passenger rail