Rep. John Mica (FL-07) set a goal for America's rail industry at a Transportation Rail hearing focused on reforms that are important to new rail legislation.
"I'm interested in opening up passenger rail for competition," Mica said. "Amtrak's long distance routes are expensive dogs costing taxpayers millions of dollars annually. Every one of the three major long-distance routes increased their losses from 2011 to 2012." Mica took on federal rail bureaucrats who balk at changing what Mica calls a money-losing Soviet-style train operation.
Adding to Amtrak's increased losses on long-distance routes, the one-and-a-half billion dollar annually taxpayer subsidized agency fails to have an effective plan for maximizing non-rail revenue, only returning $100 million in 2012. Private sector estimates project that Amtrak could potentially increase its non-rail revenue by 10 to 12 times that amount. Mica stated, "Each year taxpayers are dumping multi-billion dollar bailouts into Amtrak, and it has to stop."
Mica also requested a plan from the Association of American Railroads to relocate freight rail out of urban corridors. A major relocation of freight rail is needed in the next rail bill. "One of the smartest things Florida ever did was relocating freight rail out of the urban corridors," Mica said. "These corridors are being converted to passenger rail, which will double or triple the speed of trains while taking trucks off the roads and saving taxpayers money."