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4/27/2005
Minnesota Congressman Wants Amtrak to Disclose Subsidy
U.S. Representative Mark Kennedy offers amendment that would force Amtrak to print amount of taxpayer subsidy on each rail ticket.

Rep. Mark Kennedy
U.S. Representative Mark Kennedy (R-Minnesota) wants Americans who use Amtrak rail service to know exactly how much of their ride is being paid for by the taxpayers. He drafted legislation that would force Amtrak to print the exact amount of subsidy that goes into each trip on every ticket. Kennedy offered this as an amendment to the $6 billion Amtrak authorization bill that passed the House Transportation Committee today.

"We cannot ignore the reality that it is, in many cases, cheaper to put Amtrak passengers on airplanes instead of paying the Amtrak subsidy," Kennedy said.

A sample trip from California to Florida on Amtrak offers six different travel options. The 146 hour journey by train would cost $424. The same trip scheduled on the airline pricing website Orbitz.com shows 45 different round-trip flight options for less than $424. Most of these were half the Amtrak price.

Kennedy withdrew his amendment after experiencing opposition in the committee. "I know what my colleagues in opposition will say," Kennedy said. "They will say that you can't compare these two services. You can't compare airlines to Amtrak, and I agree. At least some of the airlines make money."



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