Monday, April 25, 2005

Amtrak

At what point do we stop bailing this company out?

WASHINGTON - Several senators on Thursday criticized President Bush's proposal to give Amtrak no money next year, while the railroad submitted a request to Congress for $1.82 billion.

Amtrak is receiving $1.2 billion from Congress this year.

Chairman David Laney said that without a boost in money the railroad would have no cash by year's end in light of Acela Express brake problems that have sidelined the profitable high-speed fleet until this summer.

A majority of senators on the Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Subcommittee were critical of Bush's plan and sympathetic to Amtrak, favoring giving the railroad money next year. No specific amount was mentioned.

"How did the administration come up with such a ridiculous proposal?" asked Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., subcommittee chairman. "I was extremely stunned and disappointed that such a proposal was made."

Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-N.D., said the Bush administration's stance that zero funding of Amtrak is a "call to action" was baseless.

"Zero funding means you want to shut the place down," Dorgan said.

Did you happen to notice those numbers? In two years Amtrak wants us, you know, the tax payers, to give them 3 billion dollars. Let me do it this way so you understand better,

$3,000,000,000.

Sen. Dorgan says zero funding would shut them down. GOOD! How many years do we have to keep dumping money into this cash cow?

Amtrak it self has said:
its current business model is unsustainable and in need of serious reform.

And you want us to give you 3 BILLION dollars?!?!

It doesn't surprise me that a ompany wants to be bailed out. It SHOULDN'T surprise me the our representatives want to throw our money way, year after year. It does though. Don't ask me why.

AHHH, but there are PLANS!!

Lott said the subcommittee would study three proposals — from the Bush administration, Amtrak and the DOT's inspector general — and work to present a bipartisan bill regarding Amtrak's funds.

Kenneth Mead, the DOT's inspector general, said Amtrak needs at least $1.4 billion to maintain current operations. But Mead said $2 billion would put Amtrak in a better operating position in the long run.

And that's for 1 year. How much will they want the following year?

All the plans included proposals calling for states to chip in to keep Amtrak running. Bush's plan calls for a 50-50 federal state partnership, Amtrak is asking states for 20 percent of funds, and Mead's plan seeks between 15 to 30 percent from states.

Interesting thought. I have a better idea. How about we let this company stand or fall on it's own?

"States can't afford at this time to simply pick up the federal contribution to Amtrak," said Sen. Frank Lautenberg (news, bio, voting record), D-N.J., who supports funding Amtrak and criticized Bush's 50-50 proposal. "Expecting them to do so would be yet another unfunded mandated, and it would sink state budgets in a sea of red ink."


Lautenberg brings up an interesting line of reasoning. States can't afford it. Hmmmm, I have an idea. Since some states, like Florida, only have long distance runs, Florida should get rid of Amtrak. Of the 15 long distance runs Amtrak has, not 1 has ever shown a profit. Get rid of them. Why is this so hard to understand?

I know that in the northeastern part of this country Amtrak actually does make money on it's intercity runs. Hmmm, leave those in place. If Amtrak still needs money, let those states that have intercity routes pay for it. WOW, that was just too hard to figure out.

The one thing that makes me laugh on this is, there are some democrats that whine about the moey spent on Iraq. These same people will not say a word about the money that has been thrown at Amtrak for I don't know how many years. I wonder why that is?