/>
X
Innovation

Amtrak loses $32 per passenger; Do we need the New Orleans to LA route?

Forty-one of Amtrak’s 44 routes lost money in 2008 and on average the railroad lost $32 per passenger, according to a new report.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Forty-one of Amtrak’s 44 routes lost money in 2008 and on average the railroad lost $32 per passenger, according to Pew's Subsidyscope.

However, that average doesn't show the vast range for Amtrak's money-losing routes. Losses ranged from $5 to $462 per passenger, said Subsidyscope.

According to a statement:

The line with the highest per passenger subsidy—the Sunset Limited, which runs from New Orleans to Los Angeles—carried almost 72,000 passengers last year. The California Zephyr, which runs from Chicago to San Francisco, had the second-highest per passenger subsidy of $193 and carried nearly 353,000 passengers in 2008. Pew's analysis indicates that the average loss per passenger on all 44 of Amtrak’s lines was $32, about four times what the loss would be using Amtrak's figures: only $8 per passenger. (Amtrak uses a different method for calculating route performance).

The Northeast Corridor line---think Washington D.C. to Philly to New York to Boston---carried 10.9 million people in 2008 and the Acela Express made a $41 per passenger profit. The Northeast Regional, the cheaper and more popular service, lost $5 per passenger.

The AP quotes one transportation wonk who notes that other forms of transportation also lose money, but the question remains. Should that taxpayer have a say in what routes Amtrak runs? And is subsidized rail travel a worthy cause?

Andrew Nusca: Is high-speed rail worth it in the U.S.?

John Dodge:
High-speed rail is worth it

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards

Related

The 16 best Cyber Monday deals under $30 still available
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K

The 16 best Cyber Monday deals under $30 still available

Epson is going to stop selling laser printers. Here's why
piles-of-paper.jpg

Epson is going to stop selling laser printers. Here's why

Don't waste your money on these Apple products: December 2022 edition
Waiting in line for the Apple Store

Don't waste your money on these Apple products: December 2022 edition