## Train your eye on this

Trains cost Wisconsin taxpayers millions - JSOnline

There is so much wrong here!

In the beginning I was drawn to the fact that it reads more, much more, like an editorial or an opinion piece than a news article, but in the end it was the barely named presence of Amtrak that got my attention.

I think I got really riled up when the article mentioned that the state of Wisconsin was supposed to pony up the money for...
While some of those figures could change, it appears the state eventually could spend $11.7 million on a temporary maintenance base, up to$60.1 million on a permanent maintenance base, up to $10.2 million on train shed upgrades at the downtown Amtrak-Greyhound station,$6.6 million on signal upgrades at the station and at least $10.4 million on new locomotives - all costs the federal government would have paid. So, what exactly does Amtrak, you know, the business this is all subsidizing, pay for? Apparently not for their own maintenance facilities and, shockingly, not their own TRAINS either! Why the &^%$ does the state of Wisconsin have to buy the locomotives for the quasi-independent, quasi-federal business Amtrak? If WI buys them, does the state get to keep them? Can they put a big "Owned by the people of Wisconsin" sign on them? If WI puts up the money, does Amtrak pay leasing fees? Or is this a beneficent gift from the taxpayers of Wisconsin to the behemoth and boondoggle that is Amtrak?

But let's take this a step further. This is happening in Wisconsin; should we assume that it is also happening in the other 50 states? How may other states are buying Amtrak their trains, building their lines, and building their facilities? How much money are states pouring down into the black abyss of Amtrak? What does Amtrak actually do on its own, except run the system others have bought for them--essentially managing the passengers and employees (badly.) Why not outsource their contribution to a management company, and keep the trains and tracks in state hands? It would probably be much more efficiently run and cost a whole lot less.

Amtrak is perennially broke, to the tune of billions of dollars; this despite heavy federal subsidies. What I never have heard before--or noticed before--is that it also apparently relies heavily on state subsidies as well.

And that's not even getting into the whole freight rail versus passenger rail problem. (One is extremely efficient way of moving its load, the other isn't and makes the other less efficient by tying up their rail lines.)