Promoting passenger trains as a transportation alternative in Florida since 1983.  We are citizens who advocate for Amtrak, commuter rail, intercity rail and transit for Florida's future.

Members of Congress Try To Take Budget Ax To Amtrak Sleeping Car Service

30 Jul 2010 8:54 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

Some members of the House of Representatives have, over the past few weeks, demonstrated a remarkable and complete lack of understanding of Amtrak's services and finances.

A few members of Congress, for instance, decried Amtrak's "First Class" sleeping car service as a political boondoggle and cited "high subsidies" and "private movies" as examples of runaway Federal spending.

This particular Don Quixote-like crusade was led by the wily Texas Republican Congressman Mac Thornberry.

You can read details of his misinformation campaign by clicking here.

Never mind the fact that Thornberry's opinions were based on flawed, years-old studies done by a former employee of the Congressional Budget Office who mistakenly ascribed all dining car and baggage car costs to the "costs" of sleeping car service.

Nor did he take into consideration that sleeping car passengers generate more revenue per passenger than Amtrak's coach passengers. Or that Amtrak hasn't had movies in its Viewliners or called its sleeping car service "First Class" in years.

Also ignored, of course, was the fact that that shutting down Amtrak's sleeping car service would have no effect on reducing our chronic Federal budget deficits.

Amtrak and the National Association of Railroad Passengers point out that coach-only trains would limit passenger options-- and therefore revenue-- creating the need for more subsidies to keep sleeper-less trains rolling.    

Happily, this misguided effort was stopped in its tracks by other, more thoughtful Members of the House, as reported by the San Angelo, Texas newspaper.

Still, the fact that Amtrak's sleeping car services (and their passengers) are being used as pawns in the partisan battles going on at the Capitol now can only be summed up in one word: Disgusting.

--Jackson McQuigg


  • 30 Jul 2010 7:49 AM | Deleted user
    Truth is, if you eliminate the sleeping cars, you have a taken a giant step toward eliminating the train, because it is well known that sleeper passengers subsidize the rest of the train, especially the dining car.
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