Thursday, June 30, 2005

Amtrak's long hauls not dead yet

In honor of Daryl's cross-country trip on the 46-hour Empire Builder, some Amtrak news: The House voted yesterday to restore funding for the nationwide passenger railroad to about where it is this year in a spending bill currently making its way through Congress. If the Senate concurs and Bush somehow holds his nose and signs the measure, it means several long-haul routes such as the one Daryl's taking will likely live to see another year.

An interesting tidbit from the article: The Empire Builder receives a $172 subsidy per passenger. And the southerly transnational route (the Sunset Limited from L.A. to Orlando) gets a whopping $466 for each butt in a seat.

One can see how politicians perpetually harping on maximum "efficiency" in government-subsidized entities would be peeved by such price tags, but maintaining a large (enough) and useful rail system is part of what a nation can do for its citizens. The Bush administration had been attempting to force reforms on the railroad by cutting its money, but isn't it possible to make the system better without shutting down huge sections of it first?

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