Predictable Praise for State Subsidy of AMTRAK

Predictable Praise for State Subsidy of AMTRAK

Proponents of all things paid for by someone else are effusive in their praise of the Governor’s agreement to pay $3.8 million to keep the once a day Pittsburgh to Harrisburg service operating. One editorialist was atwitter about how the $40 one way price is such bargain compared to the cost of driving a car and paying turnpike tolls. Never mind that almost $40 in taxpayer funds are required to subsidize that trip. Also ignored is the fact that the MegaBus service which take two hours less for the journey and offers three trips a day costs only $16 for a one way ticket. And guess what. No taxpayer subsidy is required.

The Governor’s deal sounds great to those who prefer riding trains. So why not ask the riders on the train to pay higher ticket prices to cover the true cost? Why can we not let go of the notion that just because some people like being subsidized, it is not mandatory that taxpayers have their pockets picked endlessly to accommodate their wishes?

Here’s a reasonable challenge for all the pundits who have pushed for the state subsidy and are now gleeful that the Governor has acquiesced. Push and cajole to get more passengers to use the Pennsylvanian in order to lower the per rider subsidy. If the decades’ long trend in declining passenger count continues, this move by the Governor will look foolish as the per passenger subsidy increases.

Maybe the big supporters of subsidized passenger service would be willing to buy up blocks of tickets to help defray the cost to taxpayers. Probably when pigs fly.