Here in Florida, we are in the middle of something that is happening in other states with Republican leadership. We are refusing federal money.
Newly elected governor, Rick Scott, refused $2.4B of money for a high speed train from Tampa to Orlando, a distance of 85 miles (a cost of $28.2 million per mile).
This might be different if rail wasn’t a loser in America. Reported in a study in the New York Post in 2009:
Taxpayers spent a whopping $32 per passenger subsidizing the cost of the typical Amtrak rider last year — about four times the rail operator’s own estimate, according to a private study released today.
According to their financial statements for FY 2008, The National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) took in $1.95 billion in passenger revenues from 23.7 million riders, an average price of $82.27 per ticket, revenue subsidized by taxpayers to the tune of 39%. Even with this operating subsidy, they managed to post a net loss of $1.2 billion in 2008. The best line made $41 per passenger, the worst lost $462 per.
Yet, in the face of all this, the wise people in the Obama administration, acting like the petulant second graders they are, said: “I’ll just take my toys and go play with someone else, they will like me”. Basically, we are going to spend this money somewhere even though nobody wants it…
Losses of billions, heavy taxpayer subsidies – these are the numbers that the governors are afraid of. The effect of the “aid” is an unfunded mandate that either 1) the state taxpayers will have to bear or 2) cause the states to continue to suckle at the federal teat (and allow the feds more control). This proves once again that it isn’t about good business, stimulus or public benefit, it is about patronage, dependence and control.
Tell me again why we need to “invest” in rail transportation?