It’s happened again. Amendments to funding bills have been introduced by members of Congress that would, if passed, have a huge negative impact on Amtrak. I often wonder why these people don’t simply introduce legislation that would kill Amtrak quickly … mercifully.
Instead, they take a cowardly, political approach. They don’t want to be blamed for killing Amtrak, so they propose legislation that would probably do exactly that over the not-very-long haul, but sounds reasonable to their ill-informed constituents.
Take, for instance, Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona, who has put forth an amendment to the current funding bill that would prohibit any federal funds from being spent on food service aboard Amtrak trains. This is, in a word, stupid … and counter-productive.
Clearly, if Amtrak were to cut, say, 25% of the cost of running their food service operations, that could only mean fewer choices and most or even all of the meals would be pre-packaged and frozen, then microwaved before being served.
The net result would be a significant deterioration of the overall travel experience aboard Amtrak’s long-distance trains … with more and more passengers deciding to fly or drive the next time they travel.
Next, Congress demands still more cost cutting from Amtrak, which causes a deterioration in food service, which erodes passenger satisfaction, which results a decline in Amtrak’s ridership, which means lower revenues to Amtrak, which creates a need for more subsidies, not less. And all of the above generates increased demands from Congressional conservatives for even more cost-cutting, causing still more loss of ridership … Well, we can see where that would eventually lead.
The thing is — and this is what bothers me the most — it’s a fraud. It’s fake. Worse, it’s a deception which, as with all confidence schemes, depends on the media being lazy and the marks (the voters) being ignorant and selfish.
Senator Flake must know that. Unless, of course, he, too, is ignorant and selfish.