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Amtrak = Failure... Hey, let's give them more money!!

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posted on May, 9 2011 @ 12:49 PM
That's right. The current administration wants to dump $53 Billion into this mess over the next 6 years. Let's all congratulate Amtrak on 40 years of failure that has been financially supported by the taxpayer and funded by our government without any regard to what WE want. Amazing

the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (that’s the official name) was born during the Nixon administration.

Amtrak is:

Government owned and controlled
Union-operated, employing more than 20,000 workers
Has a CEO appointed by the president of the United States
Its annual budget is allocated allocated by Congress.

What could possibly go wrong? Plenty.

Let’s start with money. Amtrak loses bucketloads of money every day. The national rail system operates in the red, generating huge losses and has done so each and every year of its existence. And they are not shy about it. From the Amtrak website;

In FY 2010, Amtrak earned approximately $2.51 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $3.74 billion in expense.

That’s over $1.2 billion in losses for the most recent year, putting the overall tab for this antiquated, bloated and inefficient system around $50 billion dollars of taxpayer money.

Yes, it has LOST $50 billion throughout its 40 year lifespan. Can you think of any private/non govt. owned companies that have survived 40 years of constant loss? Wow!

Even Amtraks founder thinks it is a "massive failure"

Amtrak is a massive failure because it’s wedded to a failed paradigm. It runs trains that serve political purposes as opposed to being responsive to the marketplace. America needs passenger trains in selected areas, but it doesn‘t need Amtrak’s antiquated route system, poor service and unreasonable operating deficits.

When the Founding Father of Amtrak calls it a ‘massive failure’ and states that the politicians involved are getting more benefits from it than the passengers and taxpayers, you would hope that someone in the Federal government would respond.

Washington did respond. Their answer to Amtrak’s problems? Spend more money. Throwing money at a problem rarely solves it. Amtrak’s losses have topped a billion dollars each year since 2000. But that won‘t deter the current administration from pushing it’s plan to spend $53 billion dollars over the next six years on questionable high-speed rail systems.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is bouncing all around the country next week, announcing plans to spend tens of billions of dollars on a high-speed rail system that should lose even more money than Amtrak. (High speed rail does not have a great track record – just days ago, our own Dan Andros covered the massively over-priced system in China.) There is a certain amount of irony in the fact that Secretary LaHood will make high-speed rail project announcements in both New York City AND Detroit on Monday… but he’s getting from one city to the other via airplanes (we assume the Secretary to be flying on private, government jets too). It would be much more convincing if he chose to travel from NYC to Detroit on Amtrak. – highlighting the current system and giving us an idea of just how much time will be saved when the new faster trains are up and running.

Frustrated yet??

According to the Pew report, only 3 of Amtrak’s 44 lines are making any money. That statement alone might inspire the CEO of the failing rail service to consider cuts and changes. Of course, having more than 20,000 union employees (85% of those folks are covered by collective bargaining) makes it difficult to change anything that might cause a job to be lost, or a benefit diminished.

HOW can this be allowed to continue on the backs of the taxpayer??
Looks like 40 more years of utter failure if this is not stopped ASAP. Happy anniversary Amtrak. Sadly, these goons are actually proud of their 40 years of nothing.

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 12:57 PM
Here's a related thread I started where they want to start a "no-ride" list for Amtrak:

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 12:57 PM
reply to post by jibeho


and i Love the train!!

took it across country a few times... sleeper cars are a little expensive, compared to an
Air-fare,,, but much more fun with a spouse...!!!!!!

high speed trains --are not coming FAST

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 01:16 PM
Maybe if airlines weren't subsidized people would use rail travel more since the price of a plane ticket would be out of the range of the average American.

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 02:19 PM
I like Amtrak, if they were a little cheaper than planes I'd take them everywhere I could. I think the big issue is that the entire railway infrastructure needs to be redone. I say the same thing about the Highway to in this country... and the power grid.... and the shipping ports.

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 03:18 PM
reply to post by jibeho

You know.. I hate Government waste, but I completely disagree.

We are the most powerful nation on Earth, and we cannot connect our major cities with rail. Rail, might I add, that America pioneered and established, and we are the worst of all industrial nations now.. sad..

A private corporation could build rail, cheaper, maybe faster, but far more expensive tickets, which would inhibit the growth of train users. Trains have a long battle to try and pull people out of their cars and into trains.. not only would it save pollution but also decongest our roads.

In the Mid-West I couldn't take a train anywhere.. unless I had plans to visit a corn silo .. out West Amtrak, like the Eastern Sea Board, is slightly better established.. I can travel from Portland Oregon to Vancouver BC for $79. It would cost an approx $300 in my truck. I can go from Portland Oregon to California for $100 .. I don't know how much it'd cost in my truck, but I know it's to expensive. So with trains, because it's cheaper, I can go places and see things I otherwise, in this economy, would not be able to.

And so what if it operates in the red? Of all the things I can think of that I'd like my tax dollars to pay for.. mass transit, schools, and health care are at the top .. things that make our lives better, more productive, easier, and exciting. You whine about a billion dollars spent on an trains .. how about the hundreds of billions wasted on our Wars, or bailing out wall street? Nitpicking over something that, god forbid, helps our citizens and improves the quality of life is, imo, stupid.
edit on 5/9/2011 by Rockpuck because: (no reason given)

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 03:30 PM
obama needs to stop lining the pockets of unions because that is what this is.

its got nothing to do with creation of high speed transit its about paying off unions.

our tax dollars are going to this and the majority of americans will never use it.

in america the car is king been that way for decades and will be for decades more.

its nothing but stupidity and it irks me.

heres a thought hey obama HOW ABOUT stop bribing people and get those social security recipients their cost of living raise you know what they havent gotten for the past two years while everything has gone up in this country.

what you dont know that? more lies.

obama needs to go VOTE HIM OUT 2010

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 04:45 PM
reply to post by Rockpuck

I appreciate your optimism but the waste and the loss is simply staggering. Amtrak barely serves my area if you can find the station and have the courage to park your car there overnight. We missed the boat decades ago with regards to improving this nations access to the rails. We just watched it happen in Europe and Japan as we just hunkered down in our cars.

If rail travel and most importantly high speed rail were truly viable, the private sector would have perfected it long ago. The govt. prop has crippled Amtrak forever. They have no reason to succeed, improve or excel at what they do. The govt. blank check will ensure that.

If I had good access to a good, reliable, customer oriented and rapid rail I would use it. Too bad the status quo is getting in the way for Amtrak.

It is a failed model that needs to be killed. Let the market decide what to do with it. Most importantly, it just proves that govt. interference will certainly lead to failure, waste and most importantly Political pressure and the power that comes from it.

Time to cut the head off of the monster and stop wasting our money. Funnel it to school choice and voucher programs.

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 04:50 PM
reply to post by jibeho

1 billion is staggering? Really? Please..

If we spend the money to expand the service drastically, improve safety, and improve SPEED .. Trains have the potential to take off. You have to remember, the main reason Amtrak is not profitable .. is because to few ride the trains. We are a car nation, we prefer to drive 100+ miles instead of taking a train. What's wrong with our nation trying to CATCH UP to the rest of the World in the form of mass transit? Especially compared to the hundreds of billions that will be needed in the next decade to expand highways.

posted on May, 9 2011 @ 05:12 PM
I can get to downtown Chicago on Amtrack for $22. that would be close with my car but then there's parling and such. Our company sends a car to the treminal and my driver takes me downtown. NICE

posted on May, 10 2011 @ 04:28 AM
You would do well to read this and the history of passenger rail in this country.

Why don't we just stop subsidizing everything? See how far that gets us.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 01:28 PM
My daughter and her friends recently traveled from Kansas City, thru St. Louis to Chicago on Amtrak.
Then this article came to my attention on then same day she returns after an enjoyable trip.


So I did a search here on ATS to see what the general consensis is from fellow members and found this thread from March.

We seem to be about fifty fifty on this subject.
I would like to update the info on this thread and see if anyone has more to say.

A House Energy and Water Appropriations subcommittee proposal would shift $1.5 billion from Amtrak and high-speed rail to Midwest flood relief.

The above statement is terrible in my opinion. Taking money from the flood relief is wrong.
However, we do need to update and improve the rails.

But if more than $36 billion in Amtrak subsidies over the past 40 years seems like a hefty price tag, know that the federal government spent more than $40 billion on highways last year alone.

One year of spending on highways covered the Amtrak system for the last FORTY years!
If my household spent like that we would not be quite so broke. Forty years vs. ONE year.
The highway system is very inept. I have seen the highway in my town totally ground down and repaved only to have it go to 'pot' after two years. That cost our town and the federal gov. 3 million. For a stretch of road that lasted two years.

I also do not like the idea of the gov. selling to private companies. We all know what the private corporations have done to the US.

Sclar, a privatization expert, cites Great Britain as a cautionary tale. In the 1990s, the government of Conservative Prime Minister John Major sold off pieces of the national British Rail system to private companies. Costs and fares soared, and safety suffered.

And apparently not just our country.
There is hope, this is a quote that actually shows a way to make it work.

Carmichael, the former federal railroad administrator, offers a solution: State and federal government, freight railroads and Amtrak should partner to improve the rail lines already in place. Rather than build new lines at great expense, he advocates upgrading existing tracks and signals to increase capacity and speed for both passenger and freight trains.

He points to an Illinois project as a successful example. The state-federal effort will boost top speeds on Amtrak's Chicago-St. Louis corridor from 79 mph to 110 mph. The project has the backing of the freight carrier that owns the track, Union Pacific.

Ofcourse, in this article he also states that not one railway in the world makes money. But the metro doesn't and our highways are a terrible drain on the countries finances. With gas prices, pollution, taxes, insurance and the cost of buying and owning a car, the train could be great for the average person to get to work, vacations and visiting relatives etc.

So with this updated info, does anyone here have an opinion?

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 01:51 PM
My experience as a child...

AMTRAK allowed me to see my father each weekend during my childhood, due to divorce.

Otherwise the total driving time for my Dad was

2 1/2 hours to pick me up - 3 hours to drive me back to his place. (based upon time I got out of school)

1 3/4 to take me back home and the same to drive back to his place, every weekend.

The existence of the system and the prices did right by my family in a very practical way.

I do not think they are the best company, but I would say they are right on par with Europe (less the speeds and prices)which I traveled this summer. Europe was REALLY expensive, yet the experience seems to be universal
for some reason.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 05:12 PM
The current Amtrak system needs to be replace with a super-high speed maglev train system spread like a spiderweb through the Northeast Megalopolis and each other megaregion in English North America with a few lines connecting.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 05:17 PM

Amtrak = Failure... Hey, let's give them more money!!

I remember an old story along these lines...

A farmer wanted $10,000 to plant the best corn crop he ever tried. But the bank refused and gave him but $500. So, instead of buying the best seeds, using the best fertilizer and applying the best dusting (for bugs)... he used what he could afford.

The crop failed and the bank shouted, THERE! There is the reason we didn't give you $10,000!!!

God bless America.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 05:33 PM
Trains in the US could all be super velocity high-tech hand job giving mega-trains serving beer and chocolate getting twenty bajillion dollars every day from the government and Americans still wouldnt use them.

Lack of train use has nothing to do with funding or speed. People just like their cars. Attempts at social engineering to encourage train use and discourage car use just hurt people in regions where there are no trains. Jacking up a gas or auto tax in rural Vermont to encourage yuppies to ride Metro North from CT into NYC isnt going to accomplish anything but resentment and financial hardship.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 06:11 PM
reply to post by thisguyrighthere

Passenger train usage began to die in the streamliner era of the 1930's. The trains and their engines were just as beautiful, shiny and reliable as the streamlined autos of the day. Above all, cars were increasingly more affordable. Post WWII and on through the 50's passenger usage declined even more. Bring on the big beautiful cars of the 1950's and Eisenhower's brand new interstate highway system and you have the final death blow to passenger rail in the majority of the nation.

We've been attached to our cars ever since and the taxpayers have been supporting Amtrak since 1971.

I would love to step back and travel by rail during the glory years of the 1920's-1930's. I love the concept of rail travel. Unfortunately, my logic overrides the passion for a bygone era.

posted on Sep, 13 2011 @ 08:22 PM
reply to post by thisguyrighthere

I disagree.. in areas where such mass transit is there, the people use it.. take NYC, 20+ million use their mass transit, mostly trains and subway, every day.

Chicago is another example of trains.

But if I got on a train right now, where would I go? Fortunately I live in an area where there are trains that connect the entire West Coast. Very slow trains, but trains nontheless. It took a while to get used to it, sure, but now that I've been on one I'll never drive to Cali again, or be sexually molested getting on airplane to go down south or north.

The only reason Americans don't use mass transit, especially trains, is because it's regional, and slow.

posted on May, 24 2012 @ 07:30 AM
I would love to have rail service in the US like they have in the UK and Europe, fast, frequent and cheap (student, tourist pass or day trip).

I have over a million frequent flier miles but have also taken Amtrak a few times. There is no way to enjoy America from a cramped seat at 30,000 feet. And why the big hurry that you must fly?

The train station is much closer than the airport and none of the congestion and hassle.

For most routes their fares are reasonable, equipment is fair, frequency rather poor and the speed is awful. I have encountered stretches of 100+ miles where the track condition limits the speed to 30 mph! Amtrak does not own the track and must yield to freight trains run by the line which owns the track. Big suck!

Compare the Amtrak subsidies to the cost of maintaining our Interstate system and it's a bargain.

Here is a save Amtrak site

posted on May, 24 2012 @ 07:35 AM
Sounds like the dump
greece took on their failed
fast rail system..

The same basic principle
dump more money
inside of a sinking ship.
Hoping it will bring it back
to 100% perfect condition,
which it never can.

Obama taking a dump on us,
dumping the bill on you,me
and everyone you know.

Let me ask you this, Do like to be crapped on?

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