Regulars here know that I have occasionally – all right, frequently – been critical of Republicans in Congress and presidential candidates named Mitt for advocating the reduction or even the elimination of the modest annual subsidy Amtrak has been getting from the federal government.
Every year for forty years, Amtrak has had to go hat-in-hand to the administration and to Congress for the money to continue its operations through the following year. Who among us could run our households not knowing how much income we would have from one year to the next? It’s nuts!
Not surprisingly, and as a result, Amtrak has often had to cut corners, putting off ordering new equipment and postponing needed maintenance and repairs. Has service suffered? Yes, of course. And yet, in spite of the obstacles, Amtrak’s ridership continues to increase year after year because – and this is the simple fact that these politicians have somehow failed to grasp – Americans want more and better and faster trains!
Last year, the same politicians who whine and complain about Amtrak’s subsidy passed a law mandating that passengers be allowed to transport guns in their checked baggage. Amtrak complied, of course, and implemented a system-wide procedure to do so in a way that would be safe and secure. According to Trains magazine, the new law is costing Amtrak $2.1 million a year.
Here’s the thing: the same people responsible for the law are still trying to chop Amtrak’s subsidy.
My wife has the perfect expression when something like this happens. She says, “They’re throwing tacks in your path.”
Indeed they are.