NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


November 30, 2004

Politicians recently approved a $1.2 billion subsidy to keep Amtrak rolling. However, its passenger service and return to taxpayer investment leave a lot to be desired, according to Investor's Business Daily.

  • Amtrak trains are late almost 30 percent of the time, with an average delay of 54 minutes.
  • Only one Amtrak route produces profits, while the remaining routes must be subsidized; indeed, some routes are losing $100 per rider.

Supporters of Amtrak claim that other transportation systems receive subsidies as well, such as airlines and highways. Indeed, no transportation system should be subsidized, says IBD, but highway users pay hefty federal fuel taxes that often go to pet projects such as bicycle paths and mass transit, instead of maintaining the nation's roads.

Furthermore, airlines passengers must cough up surcharges on ticket prices in order to fund airport facilities and air traffic control systems. Subsidies on air traffic control systems are less than a penny per passenger.

Meanwhile, Amtrak has received $27 billion in subsidies since 1972 -- and it is time to privatize the service, says IBD.

Source: Editorial, "Amtrak's Gravy Train," Investors Business Daily, November 23, 2004.


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