Railroad & Accessory Guide
for Designers & Modelers
High Speed Rail in the USA
Page 5 of 16
Amtrak has always needed a money train.
The nation’s rail system has been criticized by numerous lawmakers for always operating at a deficit and seeking financial boosts from Congress. But when compared with federal highway spending, Amtrak’s balance sheet doesn’t look so bad, according to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), a major proponent of rail transportation.
"Last year we spent more than $40 billion on highways. And Lord knows we need that. But that's more than we spent on Amtrak in its entire 40-year history," Lautenberg said in an article on Nola.com, the online home of the New Orleans Times-Picayune.
Can it be that after 40 years of operation the money spent on Amtrak didn’t even equal one year of federal highway spending? PolitiFact New Jersey found the claim is right on track.
The USA taxpayers fund the airports, the runways, and many of the air routes that are not profitable and could not survive without taxpayer help.
The cost of these two major categories of transportation to the USA taxpayers is into the tens of billions of taxpayer dollars each year, and adds to the overall cost of getting from point a to point b..
Train travel in many ways is actually less costly, and is one of the least subsidized public transportation systems in the USA. Train travel also does not 'nickel and dime' its customers like some airlines do. An airline charging $100 for a ticket can add the following: Telephone booking fee $25, peak travel surcharge $40, first checked bag $50, second checked bag $70, seat selection $20, pillow and blanket $16, headset $4, snack $6, and cocktail $12, which may bring you price to $393, and if you use standby there may be a $100 standby fee, to bring you to $493.. Reference TravelAndLeisure.com November 2010. This is for a domestic flight, and International flights can cost more.
Amtrak sells its seats, and you get to check or carry on up to two suitcases and a handbag, you can relax in comfort without paying for pillows and blanket, and there may be a bar, snack bar, and full service restaurant where food and drink can be obtained from a $1 to about $28 total (Filet, or other prime steak dinner).. Ref. Amtrak.com
Vehicle travel seems like the way to go, you buy a car, keep it, fill it, and eventually sell it and that is the total cost, or is it…
Actually, the USA taxpayer is paying for the Real Estate to purchase the right of way, the engineering for the construction, the construction, the monitoring by the DOT (Department of Transportation), the monitoring by the police and fire departments, the maintenance of the signs, lines, guard rails, pavement, drains, islands, overpasses, underpasses, and the bridges, and most of this has to be rebuilt or repaved every 10 to 20 years. There is also the cost of limiting the air pollution caused by burning gasoline and other fossil fuels; this air pollution generates CO2, dirt, acids, and chemicals harmful to the environment, the water supplies, and the health of the citizens breathing the dirty air; these cost are 'hidden' but add tens of billions to the Bill the taxpayers have to pay each year. There are also the added cost of the anti-pollution equipment on the vehicles, and the cost of yearly inspections and possible maintenances. Industries like farms, seafood, fishing, etc., are suffering from the airborne and waterborne pollutants associated with vehicle and gasoline use.
There will be some of these cost in building and using HSR, but most will be eliminated and will save the users much. In addition HSR will be electric and therefore, can use clean alternative non-polluting energy, thus saving the taxpayer's the tens of billions that fossil fuel energy produces.
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