Congress Slashes $242M from Amtrak Budget
In a stunning turn of events Tuesday, the Republican-controlled United States House of Representatives passed legislation regarding several major budget cuts, including an astounding $242 million cut for Amtrak.
According to Andrew Taylor of The Associated Press, the government gives Amtrak $1.3 billion each year, but major losses on long-distance routes and from the company’s food and beverage services make it hard to justify that much money. Amtrak’s operating subsidies are expected to fall below $300 million this year.
While the vote will cut the budget overall, the government did approve $9 million in additional spending for Amtrak to install inward-facing cameras that can capture the actions of an engineer. This initiative came to the forefront of discussion following the train derailment in Philadelphia last month.
Congress claims that data provided for them proves Amtrak is losing money on long-distance routes, but still making a hefty profit off the Northeast corridor route. An example of a route losing money is the Sunset Limited—from New Orleans to Los Angeles—and representatives are fighting to cut it and 11 other non-cost-efficient routes.
On one hand, longer routes account for losses of more than $600 million. For comparison, the Northeast corridor routes will generate an estimated $357 million in profits this year. While the $242 million budget cut will come from Amtrak’s capital accounts, the government still plans to fund the $289 million request for operating losses.
Amtrak isn’t the only program suffering from budget cut proposals, though, as the Environmental Protection Agency is facing $718 million less in funding, while voters are awarding the Pentagon with a seven-percent budget increase.
With President Barack Obama threatening a veto on many of the budget cuts, this congressional battle seems far from over.
More by Donald Wood
Get Travel Deals and Travel News
Recent Travel Opinions
Airlines & Airports
Cruise Line & Cruise Ship