Study: Nearly all of Amtrak’s Nationwide Routes Lost Money

ATLANTA — Nearly all of Amtrak’s 44 nationwide routes lost money last fiscal year, a new study suggests.

A study from Pew Charitable Trusts’s Subsidyscope project shows that 41 of the 44 nationwide routes were not profitable, averaging a roughly $32 loss per passenger. During the fiscal year, Amtrak received $1.3 billion from taxpayers, according to Pew.

The New Orleans-to-Los Angeles Sunset Limited carried 72,000 passengers during the year and cost $462 per passenger to operate.

“The nation’s railways are an important mode of transport for many Americans, whether it’s for commuting to work or seeing the country,” Marcus Peacock, director of Subsidyscope, said in a news release. “But we have an obligation to ensure that where taxpayer dollars are at stake, people can see a more realistic picture of financial performance.”

Amtrak’s Acela Express turned a profit of $41 per passenger, the study found.

“Let’s not hold rail up and say it needs to make money when highways don’t make money, transit doesn’t make money and a lot of small airports don’t make money and they all get subsidies,” The Associated Press quoted Stephen Van Beek, president of the Eno Transportation Foundation, as saying.

— Todd DeFeo