Amtrak Loses $32 Per Passenger
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. taxpayers spent about $32 subsidizing the cost of the typical Amtrak passenger in 2008, about four times the rail operator's estimate, according to a private study.
Amtrak operates a nationwide rail network, serving more than 500 destinations in 46 states. Forty-one of Amtrak's 44 routes lost money in 2008, said the study by Subsidyscope, an arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
Stephen Van Beek, president of the Eno Transportation Foundation, a think tank, said the analysis could help guide decisions on how to spend $8 billion set aside for high-speed and intercity rail in a $787 billion economic stimulus bill. Rail planners may decide that spending the funds on high-speed rail makes more sense than slower intercity rail, which the Amtrak numbers show need higher subsidies.
Subsidyscope says its review counted certain capital expenses that Amtrak doesn't consider when calculating the financial performance of its routes, namely wear and tear on equipment, or depreciation.
Leading the list was the train traveling between San Antonio and Los Angeles -- the Sunset Limited -- which lost $462 per passenger. Taxpayers subsidize the losses to keep the passenger train service running.