Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Amtrak: Its Subsidy Keeps it Running

Amtrak ridership is up. Mostly due to rises in gas prices, people are seeing the rails as a way to beat the pump. It is looking to see its highest annual ridership this year if trends continue, and gas prices do not look to be going down anytime soon. Amtrak may finally be on its way.

Not now, not ever. Amtrak gets $1.5 billion every year from the government to keep it afloat. There is a map located here that shows how much the subsidy is per passenger on a certain line. It is pretty astounding. Why do we have subsidized rail transit in this country? Do we not think that private companies can do the job? The Great Northern Railway was able to build a transcontinental railroad without any government subsidies. The reason it could do this is because the project could attract capital because it was desirable. How desirable is rail today? Outside of a few small corridors it is completely worthless. Do we not trust private business to build the rail? After all, they are so greedy that they will take every profit motive. Why does it suddenly not apply to building infrastructure?

Amtrak is a joke. Getting rid of it will not make a dent in our budget, but it costs $5 per person in the United States every year. $5 here and $5 there adds up, and I sure would like to have that in my pocket instead of it being absolutely wasted by Uncle Sam.

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