1.5 billion for Amtrak in stimulus with daily service mandate (Passed in Congress)

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PaTrainFan

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The new House stimulus bill includes $26 billion for airlines, airports and manufacturers. That's on top of the several billion they have received previously. Compartively speaking, Amtrak has table scraps.
 

Acela150

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Why shoud govt fundamtrak? Thats anunfair advantageover the airlines.
Because ALL forms of transportation NEED a subsidy!! Operating, Capital, or BOTH! Airlines, Trucks, Highways, etc. NEED a subsidy!

It should also be noted that Amtrak is such a minuscule part of the budget compared to other things that always gets "called out".

The Europeans, Japanese, and Chinese give the subsidy to their High Speed Rail without any hesitation. America has always been reluctant to do so.
 

Exvalley

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Amtrak gets very little from the government compared to what airlines & buses get from the government. Take a look at the bill waiting to be passed.
I highly doubt this is true on a per-passenger or per-mile-traveled basis. At least as far as the airlines go.
 

Acela150

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Not to me, but people tend to get very competitive when it comes to Amtrak versus the airlines.
And those that get "competitive" about Amtrak don't understand how many communities that are served by Amtrak don't have access to a major airport.

Maybe because the Gov't owns Amtrak and they do not own the airlines ...
BUT, they do regulate certain aspects of the airlines.
 

Qapla

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Yeah, they also regulate the building codes but they sure don't fund something a company wants to build

Just because they regulate it does not mean they should fund it ... they own Amtrak so they should fund it
 

Exvalley

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And those that get "competitive" about Amtrak don't understand how many communities that are served by Amtrak don't have access to a major airport.
I don't see many aviation fans complaining about Amtrak subsidies. However, I frequently see railfans complaining about air subsidies.

According to the non-partisan CBO, per passenger mile, Amtrak receives 23.6 cents in net federal subsidies whereas commercial aviation receives 0.2 cents per mile. Highway users, whether in cars or buses, receive 0.1 cents per passenger mile.
Source: https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2018-10/41955-Amtrak.pdf

So let's be honest, Amtrak is not treated more poorly than other forms of transportation. Whether they should receive more is a fair discussion - but you aren't going to get very far by claiming that they are treated worse than air or highway.

I have always maintained that government should support various forms of transportation. Choice is good for the public.
 
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Exvalley

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Why would someone getting $1000 dollars complain about someone getting $100?
Did you not read the statistics that I provided?

According to the non-partisan CBO, per passenger mile, Amtrak receives 23.6 cents in net federal subsidies whereas commercial aviation receives 0.2 cents per mile. Highway users, whether in cars or buses, receive 0.1 cents per passenger mile.

If you are asking why Amtrak fans complain so much about what other forms of transportation receive, I do not know. There are much better ways to argue that Amtrak needs more assistance. Complaining about commercial airline subsidies, when Amtrak receives 11,700% more in subsidies per passenger mile, seems absurd to me. I believe that Amtrak should be robustly supported - but my reasons for that belief are not rooted in jealousy. I have that belief because I believe in Amtrak, its mission, and its importance.
 
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Ryan

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I don't see many aviation fans complaining about Amtrak subsidies. However, I frequently see railfans complaining about air subsidies.

According to the non-partisan CBO, per passenger mile, Amtrak receives 23.6 cents in net federal subsidies whereas commercial aviation receives 0.2 cents per mile. Highway users, whether in cars or buses, receive 0.1 cents per passenger mile.
Source: https://www.cbo.gov/system/files/2018-10/41955-Amtrak.pdf

So let's be honest, Amtrak is not treated more poorly than other forms of transportation. Whether they should receive more is a fair discussion - but you aren't going to get very far by claiming that they are treated worse than air or highway.

I have always maintained that government should support various forms of transportation. Choice is good for the public.
Did you genuinely think that nobody would click on your link to check your claims, or are you legitimately quoting a 40 year old study as proof of what's happening today?

Either way, you fail.
 

Exvalley

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Did you genuinely think that nobody would click on your link to check your claims, or are you legitimately quoting a 40 year old study as proof of what's happening today?

Either way, you fail.
Weird. The link says 2018. I went by that.

That said, the fact remains that Amtrak receives significantly more subsidies per passenger mile. No “fail” there.

Here are the updated numbers:

In 2018/2019 commercial aviation subsidies were 1.06 cents per passenger mile.
Sources:

Amtrak 2019 subsidies were 35.6 cents per passenger mile.
Sources:

The claim that government favors commercial air travel over Amtrak is demonstrably false.
 
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Devil's Advocate

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Not to me, but people tend to get very competitive when it comes to Amtrak versus the airlines.
I don't see many aviation fans complaining about Amtrak subsidies. However, I frequently see railfans complaining about air subsidies.
Nobody you responded to was attacking airlines and few are as competitive about splitting hairs as you are.
 
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Ryan

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I'm going to go ahead and ask you to show your work on those figures.
 

Exvalley

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I'm going to go ahead and ask you to show your work on those figures.
Are you seriously doubting that Amtrak receives much more subsidy per passenger mile?

Table 2-32 says that the federal, state, and local governments collected $38.5 billion in airline ticket fees and similar revenues, while Table 2-35 says that those governments spent $46.5 billion, for a net subsidy of $8.0 billion. When divided by 2019 domestic air travel passenger miles shown in Table 1-50 that works out to 1.06 cents per passenger mile. Note that international travel isn’t included and would push the average subsidy downward.

Amtrak’s year-end report for fiscal year 2019 indicates passengers traveled 6.475 billion passenger miles. The report also says that state operating subsidies (which Amtrak includes with “passenger related revenue”) were $234.2 million and that “state capital payment amortization” was $127.4 million. For federal subsidies, the Congressional Research Service Report says that Congress gave Amtrak $1.942 billion in 2019. Total 2019 subsidies, then, were $2.3 billion, or 35.6 cents per passenger mile.

People should be VERY careful when they argue that government should not favor one form of transportation over another, because government does, and the beneficiary is clearly Amtrak.
 

lordsigma

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People should be VERY careful when they argue that government should not favor one form of transportation over another, because government does, and the beneficiary is clearly Amtrak.
While I agree with your premise that passenger rail advocates should not complain about subsidies of other transportation modes for this reason (Though I do think it's legitimate to point out that other transportation modes are subsidized when people complain about Amtrak not making a profit), I think you have to look a bit deeper. That's also taking a viewpoint that the only legitimate measure of government "favoring" a transportation mode is with calculating the per mile passenger subsidy. To really get the full picture though you have to look at things from a policy perspective as well - things that have been done over the years to position the automobile as the dominant form of transportation in the US - from the building of the interstate system and the influential position of the petroleum industry in the US. In America - from government down we undoubtedly favor the automobile and air travel over passenger rail. While it's true we subsidize Amtrak, we subsidize it to keep the lights on - we have not made the investments needed to advance passenger rail beyond the 1950s into the modern passenger rail that many other countries have that can be more competitive with air and road travel. Some of this is simply societal - there is no transportation method more American than road travel - its a symbol of freedom of movement and individual liberties and the spread out nature of our country and where we live. And I'm also not saying we should change that - while I think we should make investments to increase the value of our passenger rail network - I also don't think we should become Europe either with their much more centrally planned society.
 

lordsigma

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As much as I love taking my train trips on Amtrak - I equally love loading my ATV in the back of my truck and driving up north for the weekend to hit the trails. I think train travel can be improved in the US - but we also should stay America.
 

Exvalley

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I agree with you from a policy perspective. That was my point, actually. The policy basis should stand on its own merits.

The reality is that the government spends a whole lot more for a passenger to travel a mile on Amtrak than it does for other modes of transportation. So we need to justify that rather than whining that Amtrak isn’t treated as well as commercial aviation.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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Any time someone use “Loss per passenger mile” it’s a hit job on Amtrak. Sadly even Amtrak will use this to attack there own services. This false and misleading attack has been proved to be wrong way to account for loses. However it just keeps on living, just waiting for someone to use it again, and again. So tiresome.
 
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Ryan

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Are you seriously doubting that Amtrak receives much more subsidy per passenger mile?
I don't actually have a dog in the fight, but given that it's demonstrated that you're barely reading the documents you're throwing around as references, I'm not just going to press the "I believe" button on whatever figures you're throwing around to try and prove your point. You're going to have to earn some credibility before that happens.

At a cursory glance, you haven't even gotten the table numbers correct in your argument, so I'm not even going to try and delve into the actual tables themselves to see what you've managed to screw up (hint: they're tables 3-32, 3-35, and 1-40, not 2-32, 2-35, and 1-50). All of that assumes that you've actually chosen the right dataset and methodology, which I'm also not going to blindly believe given your poor track record (no pun intended). For example, these figures do nothing to account for any tax incentives or waiving of fees that would artificially depress government revenues and do nothing to capture expenses that the government takes onboard that the airlines benefit from (such as the lucrative pipeline of fully trained and experienced pilots that the military provides to the airlines).
 

Exvalley

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Any time some use “Loss per passenger mile” it’s a hit job on Amtrak.
When comparing two forms of intercity travel, the passenger-mile metric seems about the best metric to use.

If anyone wants to disprove that Amtrak receives much greater subsidies than commercial airlines per passenger mile, I am all ears. I hear the claim thrown around a lot, but have never seen a shred of proof - at least when you adjust for the number of people and distance travelled.

Ryan, you can nitpick my methodology, but you haven't come remotely close to demonstrating that my overall point is invalid - which is really what matters here. I understand that you are defensive (I used to be too!), but the reality is what it is. Citing one small subsidy by the Missoula County Airport Authority is not going to erase the nearly 35x advantage Amtrak enjoys - even if we assume that the subsidy was not included already in my numbers. Keep in mind that I did not include federal subsidies for freight infrastructure that Amtrak benefits directly from.

This isn't meant to be anti-Amtrak. On the contrary, it is meant to make Amtrak advocacy more effective by focusing on arguments that have legitimacy. I've never understood why people believe that the best argument is based on a demonstrably false claim.
 
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