There’s some interesting new data on Amtrak’s tremendous losses.
- Amtrak loses on average nearly $100 million per year on meal service. Much of Amtrak’s food spoils, and they maintain full dining car staffing even during periods where ridership is extremely low.
- The federal government has spent an average of over a billion dollars a year in capital expenditures for the Northeast corridor over the past 40 years. That spending isn’t included when Amtrak claims to make a profit (about about one-fifth that amount) on Northeast corridor services. Amtrak projects a need for $151 billion more for Northeast corridor high-speed rail. It turns out that the belief that Amtrak makes money in the Northeast corridor is based on faulty accounting.
- For critics who say Amtrak is starved for cash, and deserve greater subsidies, it actually gotten 50% more government aid between 2007 and 2011 than it had received in the previous five year period — $8.4 billion.
- Putting Amtrak’s subsidies in context, before they grew 50%, Amtrak was receiving $186 per 1000 passenger miles — compared to $6 for airlines.
- Amtrak represents 0.36% of US intercity passenger traffic (one-third of 1%)
Of course, it isn’t just taxpayers that get abused by Amtrak. Customers don’t have it all that great, either — and that’s apart from Amtrak’s on-time performance.
- Don’t forget that Amtrak Guest Rewards devalues too. And not for the first time, either.
- And like Delta, they make changes with no notice. Even multiple times in a matter of days. A practice they’ve engaged in for years, and been called out in the Wall Street Journal for.
- They don’t like mileage runners, either.
- Amtrak even eliminated their satisfaction guarantee because too many customers were dissatisfied.
- If you know what’s good for you, don’t die onboard Amtrak.
Earlier in the year I wrote about the Brookings Institution’s recommendations on how to save Amtrak.