Mark Twain had it right!

The idiocy that passes for government here in DC is now in full swing. It seems that "sequestration" is here to stay for the duration. My political views are well known: I am not a crazed left wing nut, but this country is going to have to get rid of this Republican Tea Party insanity. On top of that, we also have the best government that the big corporations can purchase. Insidiously helped along by our Supreme Court. The rest of the world must just be shakeing their collective heads in bemused, if not bewildered, wonderment. 

I am not sure that this is all new for this country. Mark Twain already uttered this famous quote: "Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself."

Which brings me to the purpose of this little rant. Republicans in Congress have been trying for years to kill Amtrak, hoping that sequestration will finally do it. "Nobody is using it, it loses too much money, it's old technology, it's badly run". Fortunately, for a variety of reasons, it did not work that way. It must drive Rep. Mica (R-FL), who is always on an anti Amtrak jihad, absolutely up the wall, but here is what Amtrak is telling us today:

In fiscal year 2012, Amtrak served a record 31.2 million passengers and had $2.02 billion in revenue while employing more than 20,000 people. 

The Phoenix to Mesa to Scottsdale line has seen an increase of 931 (!) percent since 1997.

Dallas to Fort Worth to Arlington passenger numbers have increased 482 percent since 1997.

Austin to Round Hill ridership has gone up 383 % since 1997.

The Lancaster to Philadelphia line has seen an increase of 257 %.

There are more examples, but I won't bore you.

Many of Amtraks routes have seen double digit passenger growth. I am not an Amtrak fan boy, far from it. For example I find the railroads obsession with high speed rail totally misplaced. Get the track and catenary fixed first, before even thinking about zooming through the country side at 150 mph! But at least we ought to give credit where credit is due. Amtrak has done an admirable job, given it's lack of stable funding, dependence on the freight railroads and the constant sniping by the right wing. We give United Airlines and their ilk billions and billions of dollars in direct and indirect subsidies every year. Nobody seems to care about that. Well, it is time to level the playing field!

Union Station in Washington, DC. Amtrak's headquarters.


Amtrak Talgo Train in Washington State en route to Vancouver, BC

Model of Amtrak's new Siemens Vectron based NorthEast Corridor Electric Locomotive

 

Here is what the "Vectron" looks like in DB AG Schenker colors.