State subsidies for Amtrak make no economic sense

According to a report in the Albuquerque Journal, a new study estimated it would cost about $9 million annually to maintain the New Mexico portions of the line used by Amtrak to run trains through New Mexico. If that money is not spent, New Mexico stands to lose between $3.3 and $3.7 million annually.

So, in classic government fashion (especially for Amtrak which has loses about $1.5 billion annually and has lost money for years), repairing the track for Amtrak’s benefit will have a net negative impact of over $5 million annually.

Oh, and lest policymakers get carried away with concerns that a $3 million economic impact is significant, New Mexico’s overall economy is $79.7 billion. amounts to all of .00376% of New Mexico’s economy. In other words, according to the study, Amtrak’s economic impact on New Mexico’s economy amounts to a rounding error.

Rather than subsidizing an already-money-losing national passenger railroad, it would seem that New Mexico should focus its limited economic development attention and resources elsewhere.