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.

Anti-Amtrak and Passenger Rail Editorial

28 May 2012 4:24 PM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

The following anti-Amtrak and passenger rail editorial by Plano, Texas, resident and financial advisor Scott Burns was syndicated and ran in numerous papers, including the Austin-American Statesman. 


Apparently the author (who writes columns and has co-authored a book railing against all Federal spending) is unaware of studies which show than less than 50% of the costs of roads are actually covered by gasoline taxes. 


Forget about the federal, state and local taxes Amtrak's host railroads pay (and in turn, Amtrak itself pays, though pass-through charges). Or that those host railroads are private businesses.


All those airline bankruptcies and airline employee pension fund defaults (to the Federal Pension Guarantee Corporation, a U.S. Government agency) in these bankruptcies, the Federal Aviation Administration, and government-owned airports are figments of your imaginations, as well. 


The prescription here is to run Amtrak like a lemonade stand, says Burns. Success or failure can only be measured in profit and loss. Making passenger trains resemble a private business is the only answer. 


Typically, the viewpoints of passenger rail critics start with a political position-- in this case, federal spending must be cut back, the government is too big, or the like. 


For some like Burns, however, it's just a short drive in politics to ignoring the facts about how the transportation system is funded and how passenger rail is funded in our country.


After all, Amtrak has been a political punching bag since Ronald Reagan was President. Let's pile on!


But why single out passenger rail, for goodness sakes?


Well, as Burns knows, ignoring inconvenient truths makes for a convenient position and a durn'd good Texas newspaper column.


Incidentally, the distance between Burns' town of Plano, Texas, and Ft. Worth, the home of bankrupt American Airlines? 31.2 miles down a couple of government-funded highways.


--Jackson McQuigg



  • 28 May 2012 6:01 PM | Anonymous
    I ignore anything coming out of Plano, Texas, as it is the capital of "1%-Land." The bubble is almost impenetrable there.
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  • 29 May 2012 11:52 AM | Deleted user
    I'll second the comments about Plano. My son lives in Wylie, TX only a few hundred yards from the Plano border. Such opulence as there is in Plano, I have never seen, even in PonteVedra Beach.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 03 Jun 2012 9:20 PM | Anonymous member
    This just a drum roll for a recent congressional action to try and cut funding for public transit and Amtrak. Congress won't balance a budget by pinching pennies.
    Link  •  Reply
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