Amtrak President/CEO Joe Boardman told a Congressional committee that the intercity passenger train service is leveraging record ridership to reduce dependence on federal operating subsidies. He announced that in FY 2012, the federal government paid just 12% of Amtrak’s operating costs while Amtrak covered 88% with ticket sales and other revenue.
Boardman explained that while the railroad has taken actions to chip away at operating costs and increase revenue, a vital component of its success has been the federal government’s willingness to invest in the Amtrak national network. Federal capital investment helps to reduce operating costs, supports the existing system, funds solutions to reduce future costs, and provides the infrastructure and equipment to sustain ridership and revenue growth.
“Previous federal capital investment levels have sufficed to keep the system going, but they are not going to be adequate in the future,” Boardman stressed. “If we are to realize rail’s potential, we will need much higher levels of federal capital funding.”
He added that the Amtrak long distance trains are an important part of a larger national network connecting rural communities to larger cities and major urban areas. They serve passengers with disabilities, the elderly and rural populations that are losing scheduled intercity air and bus service.