The Trouble with Amtrak
My copy of Trains Magazine came in today's mail. On page 44 of the September 2005 edition is a very revealing table. If we are to believe these figures, and I have no reason to believe otherwise, it verifies the hypocritic stance of the Feds, both the Administration and Congress, both Democrats and Republicans.
The figures show that from 1982 to 2005, the Federal Budget for Transit Funding increased 105%, from $3.7B to $7.6B estimated. From 1982 to 2005, Federal Funding for Highways increased 108%, from $16.7B to $34.7B. From 1982 to 2005, Federal Funding for Aviation increased an amazing 142%, from $5.7B to $13.8B!
Amtrak? From 1982 to 2005, the Federal Level of Funding DECREASED 29%! Amtrak would be better off today under the '85 Budget, when it received $1.7B; in '05, Amtrak is looking at $1.2B!
What's wrong with Amtrak? Norman Mineta is right, Amtrak is dying. But now we know, death is not due to natural causes, it is due to Government Starvation. Any idiot can see that.
Imagine what a fine system of intercity passenger service might have been in the United States if Amtrak's budget had kept pace with other funding, to ultimately reach a level of, say, $3.4B in '05! I know, that is still less than one half of Transit Funding, one quarter of Aviation Funding, and ten percent of Highway Funding! I bet Amtrak would have been something worth bragging about rather than the crippled excuse for transportation that it is now.
One more thing, can we give up the notion that other forms of transportation are not subsidized? Please!