John Mica, Professional Politician and Perennial Amtrak Basher.
John Mica, a Republican congressman from Florida, has made a political career out of denigrating Amtrak. And he does it with a sneer. For instance, he always – and I mean always– refers to Amtrak as “America’s soviet-style railroad”. He delivers the line, then pauses … waiting, with a smirk, for his audience to react. He usually gets a polite, if half-hearted response.
Mica’s latest blathering is in response to an announcement from Amtrak that they have retained several award-winning chefs to come up with new menu items for dining cars on their long-distance trains. Mica’s reaction to this announcement is to complain that, while receiving an annual subsidy from the federal government, the railroad wants to provide passengers with “lavish” meals. That is utter nonsense, of course. Amtrak dining cars turn out reasonably good food, but there’s certainly nothing over the top about any of it.
Does Mica understand that from the beginning of rail travel, a good dining car experience is what passengers remember most about their rail journey? Of course he does.
Does Mica understand that improving the quality and variety of dining car meals has resulted in steadily increasing passenger loads? Of course he does.
Does Mica understand that more passengers mean more revenue and more revenue means less federal subsidy for Amtrak? Of course he does.
John Mica is not stupid. He trashes Amtrak because it gets him exposure in the media and because, with re-election always a concern, it panders to and generates votes from all the shallow-thinkers in his constituency.
Shame on him for that. And shame on the media for continuing to let him get away with it.