Your Opinion: Amtrak rides on government subsidies

Dear Editor:  

I heartily applaud the efforts of local volunteers whose efforts provide a more pleasant experience for Amtrak riders, however, with current massive federal government deficits that threaten the well being of all future generations, we should not forget the cost of Amtrak subsidies. 

According to the NY Times, since 1972 Amtrak has received over $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies. In over 40 years it has never made a profit. Last year it received $1.4 billion in just federal subsidies; it is also subsidized by many states.

One has to wonder what benefit the average American has received from these subsidies. According to a CATO study the average rider subsidy is about 40 percent of the actual cost. On average, each person who rides Amtrak costs we taxpayers $100. Because of the massive losses for the long distance routes it would be cheaper if taxpayers were forced to provide Amtrak riders free airline tickets, rather than subsidize the New York to LA and the Denver to Chicago routes. 

I am not opposed to passenger rail service. Someday I would like to be able to justify the cost of traveling to the west coast on a train. Even the heavily subsidized ticket price approximates the cost of flying. With the continued growth of the federal government, and the associated growth of government policies for “re-distributing” my income and assets, the only way I might take that trip is if I were able to “hop freights.” Perhaps the feds will discover that riding Amtrak is a “right”, similar to having a cell phone, and thus force others to provide free tickets to everyone.

Issue-oriented letters to the editor in response to this or about other local topics are welcome. All letters should be limited to 400 words. The author's name must appear with the letter, and the name, address and phone number provided for verification. Letters that cannot be verified by telephone will not be published. Send letters for publication to