Last Updated:November 27 @ 07:53 am

Amtrak funding in crosshairs in presidential race

By Josh Lederman

WASHINGTON (AP)  Warning to Amtrak from Mitt Romney and Republicans: You're on your own.

The platform Republicans adopted at their recent convention includes a call for full privatization and an end to subsidies for the nation's passenger rail operator, which gobbled up almost $1.5 billion in federal funds last year.

The platform says taxpayers dole out almost $50 for every Amtrak ticket.

At its core, the debate over Amtrak juxtaposes differing visions about what role government should play in ensuring access to public services.

For President Barack Obama, Amtrak symbolizes a communal investment in the American infrastructure that enables and catalyzes economic growth. For Romney, who built a career mending the balance sheets of unprofitable companies, dropping Amtrak fits neatly into his message of doing away with spending that government can't afford.

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  1. jenerseaComment by jenersea
    September 11, 2012 @ 11:07 am

    All public transportation is subsidized. Airports are built with federal funds. Why not find a way to put them all together. Passenger trains used to make big money by hauling the mail in Railway Post Office Cars where the mail was sorted enroute. The mail moved alot faster than it does today, and it did not have to be trucked to some place to be sorted and then delivered in a couple of days. Put a letter onboard an RPO car in Washington and it was delivered the next day in Chicago. About 1973 or so that business was given to the trucks. You see how slow delivery is today. Since the Post Office and AMTRAK are both federal agencies, why can’t the mail be hauled by AMTRAK? Hauling the mail on AMTRAK trains would pay for that train’s existence, just like it did in the days when trains hauled RPO cars on the private railroads. The private railroads do not want passenger service because it ties up their freight haulage, they say, only way to have passenger trains in this country is for the Feds to operate them. Some routes are very profitable, just not nation wide. Hauling the mail at the very least would help to offset the costs of running less profitable routes.

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  2. docfreemanComment by docfreeman
    September 11, 2012 @ 12:21 pm

    I do not feel that giving my tax dollars to Amtrak is very fair or balanced. I do not live anywhere around it and I have no plans on riding on it anytime in the near or distant future. So why should I be made to pay for something I will never use? This was another boondoggle that the federal government got us in and they have refused to get out of it like Solyndra, Solar Reserve, BrightSource Energy, Nevada Geothermal, Ormat Nevada and First Solar. As usual when the federal government gets involved it cost quadruple what it should, it takes three times as long to finish, and it never ends.

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