Amtrak has absorbed $40 billion in federal subsidies over the last 40 years. It has never earned a profit.
How many people ride the trains? They account for one-tenth of one percent.
This is a boondoggle. It has been since day one.
Then there is fraud.
In a report released last year, the Office of the Inspector General documents the fraudulent sales schemes in the food and beverage service on Amtrak trains by Amtrak employees, costing the government-assisted corporation, and taxpayers, up to $7 million. . . .
In October 2011, U.S. prosecutors charged “11 people in connection with an alleged $1 billion fraud involving hundreds of railroad workers filing false disability claims,” reported Reuters.
Former Long Island railroad workers would file disability claims just before retirement, allowing them to collect both disability and pensions.
Employees allegedly claimed between $800 and $1200 in medical expenses to hire one of several disability doctors in on the scheme. These doctors would then conduct unnecessary tests and diagnose unnecessary ailments that would allow the workers to go on disability.
The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office estimates that the Long Island Railroad Board paid roughly $1 billion in these fraudulent claims.
Will this stop? No. But overall it pales in comparison to the subsidies.
“During the 2000s, Amtrak averaged annual losses in excess of $1 billion. In 2010, Amtrak received $563 million in operating subsidies and $1 billion in capital and debt service grants. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 pumped an additional $1.3 billion in capital grants into Amtrak.”
It never changes. Calls for reform change nothing. Congress refuses to implement reforms.
This is modern politics. The average Joe is supposed to subsidize the train rides of the richest Americans: people in the Northeast like Boston, New York City, and Washington. D.C.
Will it ever change? Only when Washington’s checks bounce.