NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

More Travel By Car, Plane And Bus -- But Not By Train

September 15, 2000

The rising prosperity of the 1990s has led to unprecedented mobility and travel opportunities for all Americans, and this in turn has benefited almost all segments of the transportation industry -- except Amtrak, America's federally chartered and subsidized passenger rail service.

According to the Heritage Foundation:

  • Between 1990 and 1999, the number of domestic airline passengers rose 37 percent, from 423 million to 582 million.
  • Automobile use as measured by passenger-miles increased 25 percent from 1990 to 1998.
  • Even intercity bus service passenger volume rose 7 percent between 1990 and 1998.
  • But Amtrak's annual passenger level fell from 22.2 million passengers in 1990 to 21.5 million in 1999.

Indeed, intercity bus service currently carries 17 times more passengers than Amtrak, and Amtrak's share of the intercity passenger market amounts to only six-tenths of 1 percent nationwide when measured in passenger-miles.

Source: Ronald D. Utt, "New Amtrak Boondoggle May Outdo All Others," Backgrounder No. 1392, August 28, 2000, Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Avenue, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002, (202) 546-4400.


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