These anti-Amtrak People Have No Shame.
I really get fed up with the libertarian ideologues who relentlessly pound away at Amtrak. Their shorts are perpetually in a knot because Amtrak receives an annual subsidy from the federal government. Well, OK … if that’s their problem, let them make the best case they can for doing away with that meager government support.
But why do they have to lie?
Take, for example, Ronald Utt, a professional opinion-giver who is associated with the far-right Heritage Foundation. Among his many claims to fame, Utt was listed by Philip Morris as an “expert” able to refute the crazy notion that there is a social cost to the use of tobacco in our society.
Anyway, Utt recently was interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on the subject of Amtrak … an interview that was loaded with factual errors so obvious and so basic that they could only have been deliberate. Fortunately, Michael Alexander, a member of NARP’s* Council of Representatives responded with a follow-up article listing, and refuting, every one of Utt’s prevarications. Here are just a few examples:
Utt stated as fact that High-speed rail is dead. But gee, Alexander asks, what about the first segments of HSR that just opened in Michigan on the Chicago-Detroit run and between Chicago and St Louis in Illinois?
Utt says President Obama has given up on high-speed rail. Alexander notes that, “Under the Obama administration 500 applications for rail projects have been made to the Department of Transportation, from which 152 in 32 states were selected.”
Utt says Amtrak’s problem is not enough people filling seats. (This is the biggest whopper of all!) In fact, says Michael, Amtrak trains are often sold out and, system-wide, Amtrak ridership has grown 44% since 2000. For a specific example, he notes that there are 14 trains a day running between Harrisburg and Philadelphia and ridership on those trains has doubled over the past decade.
There was a lot more, but you get the idea.
Finally, about Ronald Utt and others of his ideological ilk, Lucy from the Peanuts comic strip once expressed a tactic that perfectly describes them: “If you can’t be right,” she said, “be wrong at the top of your voice.”
*National Association of Railroad Passengers