Amshack, take that!
More justified unhappiness with our dumpy rail station
The clamor for a decent rail station in Albuquerque continues to rise in volume. Last week on Duke City Fix, Jon Knudsen, of Albloggerque fame, posted a scathing critique of our downtown Amshack and its “welded rows of imitation Eames era chairs with low backs to keep everybody awake.” Best line: “All in all, the scene reminds me of a north valley laundromat I used to frequent in the early '70's.”
While we can all agree that the Amtrak station sucks (and it does), both Knudsen and most subsequent commentators on his post fail to grasp that the reason it sucks is that Amtrak has been made unwelcome in the Alvarado Transportation Center thanks to the greedy, un-civic-minded policies of the City of Albuquerque. Here we have a friggin’ intermodal transportation center full of administrative offices and ONE mode of transport: buses. Oh wait, two modes: pedestrians. Why? Because Amtrak can’t pony up enough cash to make it worth the City’s while. Lame.
There are gorgeous rail stations in downtowns across the nation (even El Paso has a rocking Amtrak station), largely because local and state governments have assembled the funds to make it happen. As I’ve written before, the Alvarado was a publicly-funded project supposedly engineered for the common good. Its management should reflect that mission. It doesn’t.
And to those who question the relevance of cross-country passenger rail in this day and age: You’re dumb. A criminally underfunded entity, Amtrak performs heroically with outdated equipment and limited access to rail right-of-way. Airlines and airports are subsidized far beyond the pittance with which Amtrak squeaks by on a year-to-year basis. In this era of rising gas prices, urban congestion (not to mention the occasional nationwide grounding of all air traffic), only a moron would shut down a functioning, energy-efficient alternative system because it doesn’t make a profit. What the hell are my tax dollars for, if not a decent transit infrastructure? Oh that’s right, imperialistic wars of aggression. Never mind.