Letters to the Editor

Dump Amtrak subsidies for 21st-century approach

As liberals blame Congress for a train wrecked going twice the speed limit, consider these facts.

According to a Oct. 27, 2014 Amtrak report, there were more than 30.9 million passengers in FY 2014 for a total revenue of $2.189 billion, or $708.41 per ticket average. The U.S. Congress added $1.5 billion of taxpayer subsidy to Amtrak revenue, or around $485.43 per ticket subsidy.

Put another way, a real market-driven business would have charged at least $1,193.85 per ticket just to cover operating costs. Is it too much to ask that the people who ride these trains pay for what it costs to ride, buses too? Less than 1 percent of the nation ever rides Amtrak, but we all must pay to fund this dinosaur.

It costs so much because Amtrak is grossly mismanaged, and it is not Congress's job to manage it. Overpaid government bureaucrats were hired to do that. "Amtrak lost more than $800 million on its food and beverage services over the last 10 years, largely because of waste, employee theft and lack of proper oversight, government auditors have found." "Amtrak charges about $2 for a soft drink, but the cost to taxpayers is about $3.40 when labor is included. A $9.50 hamburger on the train costs taxpayers $16, the charts showed. Labor adds nearly 60 percent to food and beverage costs," according to a congressional audit of the malfeasance at Amtrak. This is not a business plan, it is a bankruptcy plan.

Many who ride Amtrak have no cars, while more folks pass any given point on I-95 near Philadelphia in a minute than were on the train that wrecked, thus disproving the assertion that trains take cars off the road. There are many for-profit trains in the world contrary to press reports, Google "Virgin Trains" for one. A similar trip on them would have cost $200.

There are 1.5 billion good reasons to cut this 19th-century turkey train loose after 50 wasted years and make it pay its own way.

David R. Kraner