Skip to comments.Amtrak Subsidies vs. Megabus Private Enterprise
Posted on 10/18/2011 9:12:49 AM PDT by MichCapCon
Amtrak made statewide news recently with its announcement that it has set ridership records in Michigan. But one frequent critic of rail transit says that isnt necessarily a good thing.
Wendell Cox, a public policy consultant with Illinois-based Demographia, says that Amtrak is a far more costly option when compared to Megabus, a private bus service that launched in April 2006 and operates in about 50 major cities.
For example, Amtrak reported that its Detroit-to-Chicago rail service, known as the "Wolverine," had a 4.9 percent jump in usage.
If someone were to purchase an Amtrak ticket for a Nov. 7 trip from Detroit to Chicago and then return the same day, the cost would be $32 each way, or $64 round trip. But Cox cites a 2008 study by the Pew Charitable Trusts that reports Amtrak lost $55 per rider on each leg of the Detroit-Chicago route. Cox says thats $110 per roundtrip that taxpayers subsidized in 2008.
By comparison, the same roundtrip from Detroit to Chicago and back again on Megabus would take two extra minutes each way, but the Megabus roundtrip ticket costs $25.
(Excerpt) Read more at michigancapitolconfidential.com ...
ClusterF - the end result anytime government, at any level, tries to do something best left to the private sector.
THIS is why we need high-speed rail, and right now.
With HSR you could problably get there about 4 minutes faster than the bus.
That’s 4 more minutes to purchase your favorite inebriants to take to the Occupy [insert city] event.
PASS THE BILL NOW !!
Amtrak is takin` Joe Taxpayer for a ride.
Still peddling the same old crap after all these years.
I have considerable experience with Amtrak, at least in FL.
Several years back they had a great deal where you could buy a year’s pass on Amtrak in FL for <$100.
Since I travel a lot back and forth between two cities about 250 miles apart, this was great!
Unfortunately, I soon found that schedules on Amtrak aren’t rules, they are more like vague suggestions.
Train was on time only about 50% of the time. The rest of the time anywhere from 1 to 10 hours late.
As they used to say, you can’t run a railroad that way. Not unless the taxpayer subsidizes you.
Yeah, Willie is a Michigander unfortunately.
I always have this vision of him hiding in a shadowy Detroit alley and touching himself every time the empty people mover rolls by.
Please ping this to your ping list.
As some who is familiar with this route, and ride it fairly frequently, there is a LOT not said in this article.
This is one of just three Midwest routes with any frequency at all, and that is just three trains a day.
Amtrak routes these Detroit trains up to Pontiac, after Detroit, virtually empty. In my uninformed opinion, it’s likely to keep the crews out of Central Detroit, and safe, late at night.
Amtrak actually owns the Michigan Central line these trains run part of the route over, and it was upgraded to high speeds several years back, but Amtrak doesn’t actually have any high-speed equipment capable of running 110-MPH in the midwest.
Amtrak can’t really add any frequency to this route, due to the massive congestion in Northern Indiana. They used to run 4 trains a day, but didn’t have the equipment to maintain the schedule.
While a good service, on a high-volume run, Amtrak’s own government-induced folly’s are hurting it.
The AMTRAK services need to be sold off.
The bidding should be open and allow for multiple bidders for a single route, bids by the same bidder for more than one route and it should expect that some routes will not get any bids and, when everything is done, a route without a buyer will cease.
All union agreements will require renegotiation with the buyers and buyers must not be required to continue with any particular union contract, if they are not satisfied with what a union demands in the contract.
Fares should be completely unregulated. The buyers must be capable of running at a profit and that requires fares that can reach for that possibility.
Any existing railroad service company, whether it runs freight services, passenger services or both must be allowed to participate in the bidding process. They know the railroad business. They know how to schedule and charge for use of the infrastructure to obtain a profit. They are capable of doing so in passenger services if they are allowed to and as long as they are not forced to consume losses on unprofitable services. They may even someday find certain routes that can be profitable privately financed and operated “high speed” rail lines.
I take the Amtrak Hiawatha line between Milwaukee and Chicago for business. $42 roundtrip for a $100+ train ride - taxpayers pitch in the rest (of operating costs!).
Last time I got on, the train was delayed 1 hour. The time before that, I waited for the train for an hour and then a bus picked us up - apparently the trains have problems with their brakes in winter. True story. Amtrak subcontracts with bus companies.
Please freepmail me if you wish to be added or dropped from the mitten ping.
I'll suggest it one more time: Michcapcon, you need to create a ping list.
A plane can go faster than a train..
You’re correct, but with the airport security shuck and jive added in, the plane trip (at least for moderate to short distances) is much longer than the actual air time.
It depends upon where the trip originates and terminates.
From downtown Chicago to downtown Detroit (folks used to travel to downtown Detroit. Seriously, they did) with 6 intermediate stops, the train in 1935 was faster than an airplane of today.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.