Barry Massey of the AP had one of the more balanced and informative stories you’ll find on New Mexico’s foundering Rail Runner. As transportation analyst Wendell Cox notes, “there is almost a worship of rail.” I couldn’t agree more.
Speaking of rail worship, defenders of Amtrak are pulling out all the stops to preserve the $1.3 billion in annual subsidies that system receives. The chart’s creator (available at the link) attempts to increase the costs of automobiles to make it seem even with Amtrak. Things like “lost tax revenue” and “transportation diversity” come down in Amtrak’s favor.
The fact is that America’s passenger rail system would be better off if the federal government simply privatized it. Getting rid of costly union contracts and money-losing routes while focusing resources in heavily-populated areas would allow passenger rail to turn a profit and serve more people. Instead, Congress is strangling passenger rail service by keeping it on perpetual life support.