Congress Continues Its Expensive Train Hobby

The Boston Globe reports:

Ten years after Amtrak vowed to end its reliance on government subsidies and become self-sufficient and four years after it failed to meet that goal, the Senate voted yesterday to increase the beleaguered passenger railroad's government funding and release it from a mandate that it turn a profit.
Yes, after a record of dismal failure and broken promises, the punishment is: you get more taxpayer money, and we'll forget about those promises in the future. Lessons learned for other subsidees?

David Freddoso at NRO:

Ronald Utt of the Heritage Foundation notes that in 2006, Amtrak lost enough money per passenger on at least three of their long-distance routes — Orlando to L.A., ($436 per passenger), Seattle to L.A. ($227), and New York to Florida ($132) — hat they could have easily come out ahead by collecting passengers' fares and handing them round-trip airline tickets. As of August, Amtrak had lost approximately $845 million for the year.
David also points out: "Amtrak may be the only commercial enterprise on earth that actually loses money selling beer." Ouch!

The Senate vote is here. New Hampshire's senators, Sununu and Gregg, came out on the short end of a 70-22 vote. Senator Sununu offered an amendment that would shut down some of the more unprofitable routes; it, of course, failed.

Marlo Lewis at the CEI OpenMarket blog comments on the Senate vote, and compares it with another subsidy:

In the case of ethanol, we're told, government must mandate and subsidize biofuels because "next generation" technologies are not yet "mature" Well, Amtrak shows that maturity ain't got nothin' to do with it. Trains have been around longer than Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), the bill's chief sponsor. Corn may not always be King in Washington, D.C., but Pork will always wear the crown.
Senator Sununu is up for re-election; if he loses, it will be a huge signal to politicians that voters don't care too much about government profligacy. In which case, get ready to see a bigger fraction of your paycheck float off to DC. (It won't be taking the train, either.)

Last Modified 2017-12-05 10:40 AM EDT