The money-losing service, which relies heavily on government funding, says it is riding higher, illustrated by the hundreds of thousands of additional riders flocking to expanded routes in Illinois and California. Amtrak is chugging toward its fifth-straight record year for ridership nationwide, helped by high gasoline prices and congested highways and airports that seem to have encouraged people to keep their vehicles parked.
But Amtrak’s headaches remain, and the biggest is funding. The service has never been out of the red since its launch in 1971, meaning it must rely on government handouts year after year.
Amtrak has more than $3.3 billion in debt — largely tied to equipment leases. Amtrak’s operating losses for 2005 topped $550 million, and its struggles along certain routes continue: The iconic Sunset Limited train between New Orleans and Los Angeles, for instance, loses 62 cents per passenger mile.
Is it a requirement for AP writers to point out that the government subsidizes transportation infrastructure? Why don’t they do the same thing for highway, bridge, and airline articles?
Believe it or not, those lines were lifted from THIS positive article entitled, “Ridership growth remains on track – Amtrak on pace for fifth straight yearly increase”. Who would’ve thunk it?
While I understand the need for “balanced reporting”, it seems like this article would’ve been more balanced if they’d pointed out that Amtrak barely gets a sliver out of the government’s transit subsidy pie. To be exact, Amtrak is asking for $1.3 billion out of the $60+ billion DOT budget.
To be truly balanced, the AP should be sure to mention in every airline article that our airports get over $12 billion/year in “government handouts year after year”. Ooooh! And don’t forget to mention how the nation’s highways “operate in the red” and still receive over $37 billion in those nasty sounding “handouts”.
HERE‘s a fun website to check out the Federal Government’s 2008 Budget. Interesting to see where our priorities lie.