Tuesday, July 04, 2017

If Trump has his way, Amtrak’s long-run trains will roll into history

The San Francisco Chronicle reports:
Americans may have a short time left to take a long train ride.

The Amtrak trains that roll daily from the Bay Area to Chicago, Seattle and Los Angeles — as well as into the imaginations of the traveling public — might soon be rolling to the scrapyard instead.

Federal budget cutters once again have their eyes on long-distance Amtrak trains — the ones with bud vases in the dining car and picture windows in the lounge. If the Trump administration has its way, Amtrak will lose about half of its $1.4 billion budget and be forced next year to bump off all its long-distance runs, eliminating service to 23 states, primarily in the West and the South. Short-haul commuter lines such as the Capitol Corridor trains to Sacramento would be all that’s left.

Although Amtrak patronage was higher than ever last year, with 31.3 million passengers carried, President Trump’s budget cutters say long-distance trains carried only 15 percent of those riders.

The administration said its proposed budget for 2018 would redirect federal subsidies so Amtrak could “focus resources on the parts of the passenger rail system that provide meaningful transportation options within regions.” It said long-distance trains “have long been inefficient and incur the vast majority of Amtrak’s operating losses.”

Those operating losses totaled $227 million in fiscal 2016, Amtrak says.
The great moments of socialist transportation.