After spending at least $374,000,000 to get the tracks and people up to speed, Amtrak would have to charge passengers an average of $353 for each ticket–IF they could get 102,000 riders–just to break even on the cheapest option for trail service to Boise, according to figures released in an Amtrak report.
Politicos with overly optimistic plans were surprised at the projected costs, but not deterred. U.S. Senator Mike Crapo has urged folks to comment at HIS WEBSITE. He wants the train, but the GUARDIAN urges him to do the responsible thing and declare: “the report has clearly shown that AMTRAK service to Boise would not be in the best financial interests of that nation at this time.”
If the senator truly wants to hear a diverse chorus of voices, he should punch the “scan” button on his browser to get off the Team Dave station and see what GUARDIAN READERS SAY.
While taxpayers in the eastern third of the country get the lion’s share of AMTRAK service–and federal subsidy–they don’t get much in the way of benefits from the BLM, Forest Service, or Bureau of Reclamation. Point being, the USA is a vast nation with a variety of public interest projects and services. Just because they have commuter trains in the east doesn’t mean they will serve a public purpose in the west…anymore than a cattle grazing allotment would work in New York.
To put it in perspective, New York CITY has more than four times as many citizens as the entire STATE of Idaho. If $374 million worth of upgrades and $25 million annual subsidy were put into the trains of the Eastern Seaboard, tens of millions of Americans would be served and not a paltry 102,000 nostalgic train buffs. To do anything less is selfish and shortsighted.
Boise Mayor Dave Bieter has taken to “government by resolution” and convinced the city council ro approve a resolution supporting Amtrak’s return to Idaho. These resolutions have no legal standing, but they create the illusion of a broad support for Amtrak and foolishly spending tax money to support a political goal.
For a positive spin on the same facts, check out the Daily Paper, STATESMAN.
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