Letter: Amtrak is not only mode of transportation that gets federal subsidies

From the Kalamazoo Gazette

Recently Amtrak has received a disproportionate amount of negative press about its government subsidies.

We fail to realize that most (if not all) forms of transportation rely on federal subsidies to operate. According to the Research and Innovative Technology Administration Bureau of Transportation Statistics website, transit travel received the largest amount of net federal subsidy at $7.3 billion in 2007. The second largest amount of tax subsidies then goes to air travel. Amtrak receives the third largest subsidy. Let’s not forget that our roads, bridges, highways and many personal vehicles are all built using tax dollars.

Amtrak does receive the largest subsidy per passenger mile. But we should not try to reduce or eliminate Amtrak or its subsidies. Rail travel requires much less fuel per person than air or vehicle travel. As our dependence on foreign oil increases and the cost of gas continues to skyrocket, rail travel will quickly become one of our best alternatives.

We need to learn from some European countries and find ways to provide convenient, quick, comfortable and cost-effective rail service. This would relieve our already over-burdened road system, reduce our dependence on oil and the costs associated with it.

I would encourage everyone to experience long-distance Amtrak travel. My wife and I travel frequently to Seattle to visit family. After several bad experiences at the airport we decided in 2009 to travel by rail. We purchased our tickets and a small “roomette” from Chicago to Seattle just to get away from the nightmare at the airport. We received much more than just no airports. Our train trip ended up being one of the most memorable vacations we have ever had. We met many wonderful people on the train, experienced much of our great country’s landscape, learned much about rail travel and the cities we went through, and enjoyed many hours of relaxation. It was one of our best uses of money and tax dollars.

Sam McGuire/ Kalamazoo

Source: http://www.mlive.com/opinion/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2011/08/letter_amtrak_is_not_only_mode.html