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Amtrak isn’t only mode of subsidized transport | The News Journal | delawareonline.com

Amtrak isn’t only mode of subsidized transport | The News Journal | delawareonline.com.

Recently, with the Republican takeover of the U.S. House in Congress, they and other conservative talking heads once again have targeted Amtrak as a wasteful federal transportation subsidy.

They usually state that passenger rail services should survive on their own without the taxpayer. They conveniently leave out all the other highly subsidized and lobbied modes of transportation in this country.

 

Filed under: Amtrak, Passenger Rail Politics, Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy

2 Responses

  1. Well of course they leave out these other subsidized modes. I shudder to think want an unsubsidized air fare would cost. I am a conservative in many ways — I believe in a level playing field with absolutely ZERO subsidy for all transportation. Let those who fly, pay the price – all of it. Let those who use the highway, pay a toll to use it. However, Amtrak is a convenient goat because it’s budget requisition is a line item in the national budge, while 1000 Philly lawyers would never figure out all the other subsidies.
    But I am not holding my breath

  2. LoboSolo says:

    Jerry, I agree with you. I’d cut out all the subsidies. Here are the numbers:

    Rail is the most subsidized on a passenger-mile basis … 

    http://www.bts.gov/programs/federal_subsidies_to_passenger_transportation/html/federal_subsidies_to_passenger_transportation.html#_ftnref2

    The resulting federal subsidy per thousand passenger miles was as follows:
    Inter-city passenger rail: $186
    Urban transit: $118
    Air travel: $ 6
    Highways: -$2

    We need to be clear about the definition of federal a “subsidy” for each mode of travel. A subsidy is not the same thing as “federal funding” altho many transit, rail, and high-speed rail advocates keep trying to twist the language so that it is. If an infrastructure project is funded by payments made by its users, there is no subsidy involved. A subsidy occurs when non-users are compelled to pay for such a project.

    What pro-rail folks often do, incorrectly, is lump the local roads with the highways and cry, “See! Roads are subsidized too!”

    Not only that, but money from the gas tax is siphoned off to subsidize transit. So one of the first reactions will be, “If the roads need a subsidy then let’s start by returning the money given to transit to the road fund.”

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