Amtrak chief wants more canines, less inspectors from TSA

Discussion in 'Railways, Highways, Waterways' started by Mike, Jun 2, 2012.

  1. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    Amtrak & Greyhound both want more canines, fewer inspectors.

    Fierce Homeland Security: Amtrak chief wants more canines, less inspectors from TSA

  2. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    dogs are smarter, more useful, and less offensive than TSA clerks. Not a shock.
  3. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Having just returned from Montreal -- via train up and back -- I have to say that not only did I obviously enjoy the journey more because I didn't have to worry about the molesting thieves and thugs of the TSA, but I cheered when I saw John O'Connor on the (admittedly over-hyped) video that kept running on screens in Penn Station NYC. It was a lot of hooey about "see something, say something" and pictures of puppies, etc. But it also had interviews with O'Connor and with his employees, who actually said (paraphrasing): "I look at myself as a member of the passenger's family -- like they could be my mother, brother, sister, aunt, uncle. I want to treat them well, I want them to have a good experience."


    Contrast that with the abusive goons of the TSA.
  4. CelticWhisper

    CelticWhisper Founding Member

    Slightly OT, for which I apologize, but how was the border crossing? I've heard almost as many horror stories about CBP as I have about TSA, and for as much as I want to visit Canadian destinations, I'm none too eager to interact with border thugs.

    Does Amtrak (or whatever rail carrier takes you across the border) take steps to smooth the process, or...what?
  5. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Ever since I've become more aware of the abuses the CBP commits, I, too, have been wary. Let's put it this way: I don't think I'd do it if I were traveling alone. I was with my husband. And while that's obviously no guarantee of anything, having a witness is a small safeguard.

    Amtrak doesn't -- and can't -- do anything to smooth the way. You just sit on the train at the border crossing and wait while the first CBP officer comes through (this after an announcement has already been made on the train by Amtrak), sternly telling everyone in a loud voice to have your documents out. There are two officers per car, one at the front and one at the back, working their way toward the middle. In both cases -- going up with Canadian BP and coming back with American -- the officer says hello, takes your passport, and immediately starts questioning you. You know the drill: where are you going, how long are you staying, where exactly are you staying, what did you see, etc. Looking you in the eye as you answer, looking over your declaration form, looking over your passport, trying to gauge this and that.

    Customs and Border Patrol always makes me feel as if I'm guilty of something. That's just the manner they have, or at least the way I perceive their manner. Maybe it's because I know they have absolute power over you and I find that scary. Though I declare every single, solitary, piddling thing I've bought, no matter how petty (ask my husband; he rolls his eyes), they still make me feel as if I have something to hide. The officers are nice enough -- I mean, I know it's not their job to be "nice" -- but they still kind of give me the creeps.

    We had no problems, and I didn't witness anyone having problems, except for one college-age girl (there were a lot of college kids on the ride up), who was taken off with all her stuff. I don't know why; maybe she had only a driver's license and not a passport. Dunno. It was very open and nobody touched her or took her by the arm or anything. Also, some foreign nationals -- not all; don't know how it's decided -- had to go up to the Cafe Car to pay 12 bucks for something or other.

    Oh, and it takes forever. An hour of waiting on the way up, an hour-and-a-half on the way back. The trip would be simply 10 hours from New York to Montreal without the border stuff.

    But the Park Service has these wonderful guides -- the NPS has teamed up with Amtrak on certain routes -- who give lectures about the geography, history, wildlife of the places you're passing. You go up to the cafe car to join them if you want at the appointed time. They were great.
  6. JoeBas

    JoeBas Original Member

    On the flip side, Amtrak USED to have a problem with CBP making the Lake Shore Limited stop and lose time in Syracuse and Rochester while they did a brown person roundup... until Amtrak stopped holding the trains, leaving the CBP troopers scrambling to get back off. After all, wouldn't want to be late getting back home.
  7. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    An Amtrak VP took the trip one day and ordered the train the get rolling. Appears CPB has no authority to stop the train. The can still do their Constitution-Free-Zone harassment but have to figure out how to get home from the next stop.
  8. nachtnebel

    nachtnebel Original Member

    I can just see them standing awkwardly in coach til the next stop, with all those unfriendly eyes looking at them...
  9. Mike

    Mike Founding Member Coach

    & maybe the conductor will come around with his credit card reader to collect fares :D
  10. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    Yes, I read an article just the other day -- someone posted it on TUG (me?) -- about the fact that CBP has had its wings clipped since Amtrak told them to f*** off and quit harassing its passengers. So they're apparently sitting around glumly, poor guys, unable to do the dirty work they once did. Will go find article.
  11. Lisa Simeone

    Lisa Simeone Original Member

    By the way, in looking for that article, I came across these interesting tidbits about people fighting the good fight:

    ACLU, NY Law Clinic, and Families for Freedom team up to fight CBP abuse aboard Amtrak and Greyhound, file FOIA request -- lots of links to related stories, too

    Loss of Privacy (dot com) -- from 2011

    Leahy To U.S. Border Chief: Restore Amtrak Service From Vt. To Montreal

    And here's the article/discussion, originally posted by Mike, about CBP backing off:

    CBP reduces harassment of Amtrak passengers

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