A New Angle on an Old Argument.
The Rail Passengers Association will be meeting for the next there days in Washington and a new spin on an old argument is taking shape for presentation to individual members of Congress. If I may paraphrase, it goes roughly like this:
For years, members of Congress have been complaining that Amtrak loses money. First of all, that ignores the fact that when Amtrak was created out of the wreckage of the privately owned passenger railroads, no one said diddley-poo about Amtrak having to make money! The whole idea was for Amtrak to provide millions of people with affordable public transportation. If it took a few federal dollars to help make that happen, so be it!
Then somewhere along the way over the intervening years, members of Congress began complaining that Amtrak required a subsidy to stay in business. Next they started demanding that Amtrak at least break even. And more recently, the criticism took the form of suggesting that specific trains should perhaps be discontinued altogether if they couldn’t operate at a profit.
But the fact is, Amtrak is important to the economy even if it loses money! More specifically, the railroad is important to literally millions of little economies, because countless mom and pop businesses depend on Amtrak for for their survival: coffee shops and taxi companies and hotels and museums and rodeos and tour guides and dress shops and drug stores . . . small businesses in small towns and cities all across the country. Amtrak delivers their customers!
Case in point: last year when I stopped off for 24 hours in Dodge City, Kansas, the proprietor of the Boot Hill Bed & Breakfast was waiting for me on the platform when I stepped off the Southwest Chief at 5:30 in the morning and he drove me back to the station the next morning at the same hour. He said meeting the Chief to pick up guests was routine for him. I’d say Amtrak was mighty important to the economy of that small business!. How do you suppose those folks would feel if Dodge City lost its daily train because some members of Congress thought the Southwest Chief should be making a profit?My apologies for the long silence. I was unable to post because the program I use for this blog suddenly refused to accept my password which meant I was unable to sign on. That,of course, meant I wasn’t able to put up a new post. I dutifully followed all instructions for creating a new passwprd, but it wouldn’t accept that either … and locked me out of the site for good measure.
Apologies for the long silence. Three days on the train and, for reasons I cannot fathom, I was locked out of my own damn blog! Whatever the problem, it appears to have cleared up.