I’ve never ridden the St. Louis/Kansas City Amtrak train, but have heard plenty of negative things about it. This year, the General Assembly approved $8 million in operational cost subsidies for the beleaguered line. And if that weren’t enough, the state is also financing a $5 million “capital improvement” appropriation for track repairs. Quite a lot for a train route with only 67 percent on-time departures/arrivals.
But, apparently, that’s not enough. Amtrak notified MoDOT today that it faces a $400,000 budget shortfall, despite a $600,000 funding increase from last year.
I know nothing about railroad operations (unless you consider reading this to be a definitive guide), but it seems to me that if Amtrak ridership is declining while the profitability of freight transport is increasing, perhaps Amtrak might consider reducing the number of daily departures (currently four, about the same as the number of Southwest Airlines flights) and devoting that track time to freight lines.
Or Missourians can continue to contribute close to $15 million in scarce transportation revenue each year to support the running of empty trains (with snack bars!).