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Cubin Votes Against Amtrak Bailout Bill: Bill is Off Track


Location: Washington, DC

Cubin Votes Against Amtrak Bailout Bill: Bill Is Off Track

Congresswoman Barbara Cubin (R-WY) today voted against the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 (H.R. 6003). This reauthorization bill substantially increases taxpayer subsidies for Amtrak to $2.2 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2009 and $2.6 billion in FY2010. Over the five years that this legislation stretches, $14.9 billion of taxpayer dollars will go to this defunct program.

After the Democrat-led House of Representatives passed H.R. 6003, Congresswoman Cubin offered the following remarks:

"Last month the Democrats bailed out the housing market and this week they bailed out Amtrak, what's next? This habit of constant government intervention is alarming and needs to end. Like President Ronald Reagan said in his First Inaugural Address, ‘Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.'

If Amtrak effectively used the subsidies, it would be one thing. The reality is that Amtrak, which does not even serve Wyoming, is a huge waste of taxpayer money. In fact, Amtrak loses more and more money as each year passes. On average, Amtrak runs an annual deficit of more than $1 billion. This happens in spite of the fact that since Amtrak's inception in 1970, it has received $30 billion in taxpayer dollars. In FY2007 alone, Amtrak made $1.7 billion in revenue from passenger tickets, which was matched by a loss of $3.2 billion incurred by serving its passengers. Why does the government think it should keep feeding money to a program that has such a terrible track record?

There are some common sense ways that Amtrak can cut costs so that its debt could be curbed, which would also diminish Amtrak's supposed- need for federal subsidies. For example, Amtrak's food service alone loses about $80 million a year. House Democrats didn't help when they defeated an amendment that would have ended taxpayer funding of even the worst performing Amtrak route. That route, from Los Angeles to New Orleans, can be travelled cheaper and faster by bus.

Bottom line is that Congress should end its subsidies to a grossly under-used and failing Amtrak. Simply put, it is just plain unfair to saddle taxpayers with Amtrak's debts, particularly because Amtrak does not effectively serve the U.S. One thing is certain: throwing more money into its bottomless coffers will not solve the problem. This bill sure does waste money, but it fails to put Amtrak on the right path."

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