From: Erik Brom
Fran quotes Matthew Yglesias regarding the profit and loss of various Amtrak routes. As Fran pointed out, this is one person’s biased opinion. There is a lot of “creative accounting” that goes on about Amtrak, and transportation costs in general. Yglesias’s is one point of view. Another point of view is that the Empire Builder and other long distance trains make a profit, and the North East Corridor is actually a huge money sink. And then there is the comparison to other modes. There is NO mode of transportation that completely pays its own way from user fees and tickets. But it seems that if you are in favor of a certain mode, the money the government spends on it is an investment. But if you are not, then it’s a subsidy and waste of money.
There is a large demand for passenger trains these days, with most running near capacity. Ridership figures are mostly driven by supply, not demand. Although Amtrak has a lot of the qualities of a typical government bureaucracy, it actually manages to provide a lot of service on its limited budget.
Besides what Fran mentions, trains are one of the “greenest” and safest forms of transportation.