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Amtrak Not Worth Funsing With Citizens' Tax Dollars

BY Thomas B. Hauck
by Thomas B. Hauck on 8/18/01.


I am writing about your editorial of July 20 in favor of giving state subsidies to Amtrak. There were also favorable news articles on June 19 when Amtrak carried local politicians and other civic leaders between Jacksonville and Miami. This one-time free ride for local opinion-makers has generated such a demand for spending millions of Florida taxpayer dollars that to do anything less, your editorial, says, "is an obstacle to progress."

Your editorial states, "The railroads, while investing millions of their own dollars, want the state to help ensure the route's financial viability for a while." Amtrak has never invested its own "millions of dollars," nor does Amtrak have a single dollar. Amtrak has received more than $23 billion of taxpayer subsidies since 1971, or about $790 million per year. Congress finally told Amtrak that it would not receive further operating subsidies after fiscal year 2003.

At a House of Representatives transportation subcommittee meeting this July 25, the Transportation Department's inspector general said that Amtrak had registered a cash loss of $405 million so far this fiscal year, and Florida's Congressman Mica, sitting at the same meeting, said that Amtrak was "near death" and that "we should begin restructuring and liquidating now."

Since Congress has finally wised up, Amtrak has begun giving free rides to local officials to hopefully gain subsidies from the Florida taxpayer. I sincerely hope that Gov. Jeb Bush will not take Congress's place in throwing away tax dollars on a train that cannot make it in the free market.

For those who need rides, the bus leaves Stuart for the outside world at least 11 times per day. Greyhound Bus Lines does not receive federal subsidies, thus cannot afford to give away free rides, but it will save us $22 million in the first year and untold millions of Florida taxpayer dollars after that.

Thomas B. Hauck

Member of Citizens for a Sound Economy

Palm City