Amtrak is a government-run entity. As such, it answers not to the consumer but to politicians and union bosses. Nor does the National Railroad Passenger Corporation respond to the laws of economics. Despite running at an annual loss—is it more than half a billion dollars annually?—it never “fails” or goes belly up, for the taxpayer is forced to fund it.
Whether you use it or not; approve of it or not—government takes from you to give to the Amtrak financial and operational train wreck. In fact, the worse it does—the more people it kills—the greater its rewards: the louder the calls for Amtrak’s funding. Whereas a business that squanders lives and money would go under; a state enterprise will only grow under the same conditions. Let me put it this way: Try and withhold your fungible tax dollars, and you’ll be staring down the barrel of a gun.
In state-run entities liability is socialized and limited by the power of legislation—isn’t it great to be able to legislate yourself a Get Out of Jail Free card? Socialized liability means that the costs of any criminal or tort action will be borne by government, which is funded by YOU, its victim; the taxpayer.
These are just some of the inverted incentives that make Amtrak go off the rails, again and again.
Amtrak can no more be reformed than the Soviet Union’s communistic economy could be. It can only be liquidated, wrote Gregory Bresiger.
The latest on the “catastrophic train derailment near Philadelphia this week that killed at least eight passengers and injured more than 200 others,” via the New York Times.
UPDATE: It is true that the Dutch, for example, have tremendous pride in their infrastructure. So do the Germans. But this too will pass once European sense of nationhood is dissolved beyond repair by the supra-state, the EU.