Friday, May 3, 2013

Amtrak Tells States To Pick Up More Of the Bill If They Still Want Service

Posted By on Fri, May 3, 2013 at 9:55 AM

It has been nearly 16 years since Amtrak rolled out of the Boise Depot with no return ticket.

And in spite of tens of thousands of dollars spent on studies and periodic campaigns to revive interest in passenger rail service returning to the Treasure Valley, Amtrak's horn is far in the distance. And given the rail service's current financial status, there's no reason to expect any of that to change.

Under pressure from Congress to reduce its continuing dependence on federal subsidies, Amtrak is looking at either closing 28 more of its short-haul routes or getting 19 states to cover the costs. Amtrak is telling states that they must foot the bill for any local route of less than 750 miles in a state.

This morning's New York Times says Amtrak has received nearly $40 billion in taxpayer subsidies since its founding in 1971 and has never made a profit. In 2012, Amtrak raked in approximately $1.4 billion in federal funds and still lost more than $450 million, mostly as a result of constant maintenance to tracks and bridges.

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