Paul Krugman has a good essay looking at why conservatives hate passenger rail. He misses a few political points
- Amtrak is an easy mark. It has few resources to fight back and almost all of the proponents are regular people, private citizens with limited resources. Conservatives are represented by K Street lobby firms
- Passenger rail is powerfully symbolic of subsidized public service. Therefore, it must be bad.
- Passenger rail goes against the traditional railroad corporate “public be damned” attitude. The existence of even one passenger train on a “host” line represents a cancer on the body of professional bean counters.
- Passenger rail hints at a common life. We all get on a train at a particular time and off at certain set stations. This opposes the notion of American individualism.
- It looks European and, therefore, must be bad (perhaps subversive). Seriously.
- In the zero-sum world of airline and highway lobbies, every dime that does not go to roads or airports is a total waste. The rest of the economy can work around the entrenched special interests.
- Passenger rail, in some regions, serves a substantial number of racial minorities, therefore it is another “give away” program and obviously bad.
- Passenger rail represents change.
- Passenger rail appropriations somewhat hint at the possibility that human beings should be better stewards of the earth.
- Passenger rail is not mentioned in the Constitution, therefore, it is bad.
But, Krugman did not miss everything. Here goes.