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.

The Silver Rail Blog

  • 01 Oct 2023 11:57 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Recently an outrage group told the media that Amtrak employees made an average of $121,000 per year. They determined it so by "doing the math" and then went on to decry the fact that Amtrak has never made a profit.

    This "fact-finding" appeared in syndicated local media stories like this one.

    Trouble is, it isn't true. The figure comes by dividing Amtrak's operating budget by its number of employees. But the operating budget also includes expenses well beyond payroll, like employee benefits, overtime exacerbated by the labor shortage in the job market, and payments to retirees--and Amtrak's fuel expenses, payments to host railroads, and much more.

    Amtrak isn't profitable. Most passenger trains aren't--they are an infrastructure function. That's why the Federal government founded Amtrak in 1971, of course. And the fact that the railroad isn't profitable is hardly the fault of Amtrak's dedicated and hardworking employees. If that were a fault at all. 

    Further, the vast majority of these expenses were covered by ticket sales and other revenues generated by Amtrak, anyway.

    The organization behind this failed exercise in arithmetic is biased--and media reporting this story as fact are intellectually lazy at best.

    The outrage here is that the story is false. If this piece aired in your area, speak up to the news director of the program where it aired.

    Or better yet, thank your local Amtrak staff for their service.

    --Jackson McQuigg 

  • 09 Sep 2023 11:19 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    Good news from Amtrak, especially for the long-distance national network trains, like those serving Florida.

    From Railfan:

    --Jackson McQuigg

  • 03 Sep 2023 10:58 AM | Jackson McQuigg (Administrator)

    From MSN:

    Rail advocates know the truth--we need a lot more passenger rail than we are getting. There isn't enough commuter rail in the state (and it's completely missing in some of our largest metro areas) and our Amtrak services in the state are anemic.

    But Brightline is a bright spot--and it's turning heads. 

    --Jackson McQuigg

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