New Legislation Would Allow Pets On Amtrak Trains

Would train travel be more appealing if you were allowed to bring Fido and Fifi along? That’s precisely what four members of the House of Representatives are proposing in a new bill that would require Amtrak to allow dogs and cats, reports The Hill, a blog that tracks the ongoings on Capitol Hill.

Under the “Pets on Trains Act of 2013,” one car of each passenger train would allow furry friends, who would need to be brought aboard in kennels or crates that conform to standards set by Amtrak. The service could only be used on trips less than 750 miles in length, and a fee would be required. Currently, Amtrak only allows specially trained service animals on trains.

When introducing the bill on Tuesday, the sponsoring Representatives pulled at other Congresspeople’s heartstrings, explaining that pets are part of people’s families. “If I can take [my dog Lily] on a plane, why can’t I travel with her on Amtrak, too?” asked Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), one of the bill’s cosponsors. If things pan out, it won’t be long before dogs and cats will be able to ride the rails alongside their owners.

[via Grist]

Amtrak to become gun-friendly?

Thanks to a Senate vote on Wednesday, Amtrak is a step closer to becoming the nation’s gun-friendly travel alternative. The proposal was approved by a vote of 68 to 30 and would allow passengers to take firearms with them on trains – as long as they declare that they are doing so. The firearms also have to be unloaded and locked in a container.

Of course, Amtrak is, so to speak, being held at gunpoint on this bill. If it does not change its gun policy, the railroad would lose its $1.6 billion government subsidy, thanks to some wheeling and dealing by Mississippi’s Senator Roger Wicker.

The current policy, which prohibits travel with weapons, was implemented following the terror attacks on Madrid‘s passenger trains in 2004. Wicker cites the importance of second amendment rights in pushing for the change in policy.

Opponents of the bill say that it would be too costly to allow firearms on trains, particularly since Amtrak doesn’t have the security measures and equipment in place to manage the change. Putting it into place would be too expensive.

A House version of the bill, which passed, doesn’t include the gun measures, and the two proposals have yet to be reconciled.