So why, exactly, are federal rail programs so hated by Tea Party Republicans? Here is a generally balanced discussion. I particularly draw your attention to comments made by Bill Lind of the American Conservative Center for Public Transportation.
As a conservative with strong Tea Party sympathies, I think the main reason for many Tea Party folks’ anti-rail attitudes is a lack of information. For example:
o Many of them think the current highway dominance is a free market outcome. In fact, it reflects almost a century of government subsidies for highways while those same governments were taxing privately-owned passenger rail.
o Similarly, they believe both urban rail transit and intercity passenger trains are subsidized while highways pay for themselves. The real numbers show that highway user fees, including the gas tax, cover only 51% of highway costs while Amtrak covers 62% of its operating costs from revenues and many rail transit operations cover 50% or more of operating costs from fares.