Amtrak is riding a wave of record ridership to highlight its reducing dependence on federal subsidies to support operations.
Last week, the passenger railroad paused to highlight that ticket sales and other revenue support 88 percent of its operational costs. Federal tax revenues supported “just 12 percent of Amtrak’s operating costs,” the railroad noted.
The railroad has for years served as a lighting rod for federal critics, who point to it as an example of a bloated federal government. Amtrak says it is providing a public service by giving residents a choice of transportation where other options might not exist, but the railroad says it needs more money for infrastructure improvements.
“Previous federal capital investment levels have sufficed to keep the system going, but they are not going to be adequate in the future,” Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman said at a committee hearing last week. “If we are to realize rail’s potential, we will need much higher levels of federal capital funding.”