Study shows that Amtrak loses $32 per passenger. How much do highways cost?


On Tuesday, Subsidy Scope, a subsidiary of the Pew Charitable Trust, reported that Amtrak, America's passenger rail company, "lost" an average of $32 per passenger. Citing a new metric for train depreciation, the report suggested that the train line has been less than transparent in its estimation of its own profitability.

While it is interesting that the government spends an average of $32 on each Amtrak passenger, this isn't really news. Over a year ago, in fact, Amtrak president Alex Kummant stated that each passenger on the train line represents a public capital expenditure of approximately $40, and similar figures have been bandied about for years. In fact, the only truly surprising thing is that some conservative think tanks and advocacy organizations continue to criticize the corporation for its failure to turn a profit. The underlying message seems to be that Amtrak is a financial failure, and that if rail travel were privatized, it would somehow be able to make a profit.