7 thoughts on “Amtrak Funding Not in Federal Budget”

  1. I love this service and use if often, but I find Piedmont Rail Coalition’s communications to be confusingly sensationalist. This is perhaps the twelfth time I’ve heard that the service is about to be cancelled. Always in the same breath it is mentioned that the service is wildly popular and has exceeded Amtrak expectations by 2.5 times.

    It is reported that 17.2 million was set aside by Virginia for a 3 year pilot of the two lines started in Virginia (Lynchburg/DC and Richmond). Assuming a 50% split, that means that the each train receives $2.86 million per year from the state.

    So, the train was estimated to bring in $2.6 million, and also gets a $2.86 million subsidy from the state, that gets us to $5.46 million.

    But, due to its success, the train generated $6.4 million in the first year, and maybe more in the second. Prima facie, this would seem to suggest that the service is self-supporting.

    I know it must be more complicated than this; I’d love to see an even-keeled explanation of how the train is funded and what are the threats to its continued existence.

  2. I’ve always been confused by those numbers as well.

    If it’s generating $6.4 million and covering it’s costs, couldn’t they use the $17.6 million in Federal/State aid to look at other train corridors?

    I do love the hypocrisy of our fine Congressmen, Robert Hurt and Bob Goodlatte.

  3. If its making money, then the subsidies should stop but the route should be kept.

    It it isn’t making money, the subsidies should also stop.

  4. If its making money, then the subsidies should stop but the route should be kept.

    It it isn’t making money, the subsidies should also stop.

    Are you opposed to subsidizing all forms of transportation, or just rail?

  5. We did not write a story about the latest thread in this ongoing story, but back in June we wrote about some of the underlying issues.

    One issue is that the Richmond service and the Lynchburg service are tied together as part of the same contract. The state-funded Richmond service is not as successful, in part because it is competing with four other lines that come through Richmond every day. The daily train from Lynchburg service added reliability allowing Amtrak to fulfill pent-up demand.

    This latest story has to do with Congress changing the rules under which this experiment has been conducted. We’ll be paying attention to the Commonwealth Transportation Board’s meeting later this month to see what develops.

    Sean Tubbs
    Charlottesville Tomorrow

  6. Waldo, I think any gas tax should support the car/truck infrastructure, likewise air fares and taxes should support airports and the air control system. Trains can be supported by their ticket prices.

    Also, the Richmond service should not be tied to Lynchburg when deciding what to keep/kill.

  7. Gotcha—so it’s not that you hold rail service to a different standard, you would just prefer something closer to a libertarian model of funding transportation than what we use now.

    It seems rather unfair to hold rail to this standard when we don’t hold airlines and automobiles to this standard, but I assume that you’re actually proposing that we overhaul how all of those are funded, making them based on user fees.

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