Many people do this without even thinking about it -- they only compare out-of-pocket expenses ( like gas ), as the other expenses are really, really, easy to ignore.
It's hard for people to reasonably mentally allocate (for example) insurance and car repairs/maintenance, let alone depreciation, over their driven mileage. Gas is easy to connect the dots on. I also suspect that the IRS table is somewhat generous to avoid folks opting to go with actual mileage (since that'd be a pain to audit). But think of it like this:
-You buy a new car. Let's say that car costs $30,000. The car has an expected life of 200,000 miles (not absurd these days). So, that's 3,000,000 cents ($30k*100) over 200,000 miles, or $0.15/mile.
-You pay $1200/yr for car insurance. You drive the car 15,000 miles. That's 120,000 cents over 15,000 miles...so, $0.08/mile.
Maintenance and so on are a bit more of a crapshoot, but this adds $0.23/mile to whatever your fuel consumption is. If you're getting (say) 25-30 MPG, that's another $0.10/mile these days...but that varies quite a bit depending on where you are (it can go up close to about $0.15/mile in some places like CA). And this isn't getting into the mess that diesel has been as of late.
So we're now at $0.33/mile for a lower-range car. If you move into something more expensive, it isn't hard to double the cost of the car (as well as ding the fuel economy) with an SUV. A $60,000 car would bring the depreciation cost per mile up to $0.30, bringing this tally up to $0.48-0.50/mile...which is close enough to that $0.585/mile that the IRS has used for most folks not to quibble.
Thank you, Railiner
I guess that's also the same time we lost the Lone Star.
Some kind of a route from Chicago to Florida seems to make a whole lot of sense. Of course that Floridian route provided some high population locales including Indianapolis that remains woefully underserved, and of course Louisville and Nashville.
The Carter cuts. There are a few things to blame for them, but Amtrak's losses in the late 1970s were massive
. Like, I think operating losses were creeping up on $1bn/yr in the late 70s. There were a few reasons for this, but one of the biggest was that Amtrak was short of equipment (the Superliners hadn't been delivered yet, and there was only so much equipment from the pre-Amtrak operations that Amtrak really wanted...some of it was a mess). A metric of X passenger-miles per train-mile was used as the main measuring stick at the time (IIRC it was something like 200), but some of the trains that were cut never had enough equipment to really let them make that bar despite frequently selling out on some segments.
As someone who lives near Macon, it would make me very happy, but...
Somehow all these legislators drive to Atlanta and apparently say "yes, this is good. This is how things should be" instead of supporting trains.
The counties from Atlanta to Macon made a submission to the Corridor Identification Program. I think that's the latest I've heard anything about it.
I'm going to be interested to see what happens with some of these county/city-induced routes. If there's a way they don't have to fork over an absurd amount of money to operate the trains, it seems possible that we might see one or two come together if the Feds basically pay for the startup capex. But I'll also agree that it's a bit of a long shot.