Chao: Screw Amtrak L/D Riders.
Well, it’s official. The Trump Administration is serious about eliminating Amtrak’s long-distance trains. This comes direct from the lips of the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, Elaine Chao, aka Mrs. Mitch McConnell.
Appearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development today (Thursday), she left no doubt as to the administration’s intent or, for that matter, the philosophy behind it:
“Funding for Amtrak’s long distance routes is another area where Federal investments do not match the level of usage. Amtrak’s long distance services are used by a relatively small number of passengers. These trains are very expensive to operate and maintain; and account for much of Amtrak’s operating losses. The President’s budget recognizes this is an area with a low return on investment . . .”
This is another case of a political ideology winning out over rational argument. The fact is, the loss of Amtrak’s national network would increase the company’s operating losses … this from the mouth of Amtrak’s president and CEO, Wick Moorman.
Here’s a direct quote from him:
“Amtrak’s initial projection is that eliminating long distance services would result in an additional cost of approximately $423 million in FY2018 alone, requiring more funding from Congress and our partners rather than less.”
Meantime, NARP has thrown a lot of resources into #Rally4Trains scheduled for the weekend of June 23rd. More details on the NARP website.
No one will disagree that government should be run efficiently. But to preach that government should be “run like a business” is nonsense. Many government services are subsidized 100 percent and should not operate at a profit—fire departments and public parks, for example. Other services such as public transportation are partially subsidized in order to make them available to as many citizens as possible.
But today, because the cold-hearted ideologues now running the federal government consider Amtrak an inadequate “return on investment”, they would deny affordable public transportation to some 140 million Americans … most of whom live in states that voted for Donald “Make-America-Great-Again” Trump.