One of 170,000 passengers who use the Missouri Amtrak run each year, Breese may have to find another way if Blunt and the Legislature go forward with plans to cut the state’s $6.4 million Amtrak subsidy.
“It would really be inconvenient if Amtrak wasn’t here,” Breese said Monday afternoon as he and his wife, Clarita, rode the train from St. Louis to Jefferson City. Breese was returning home after a five-month stint in Kuwait.
Ticket revenue is not enough to support Amtrak. The state kicks in $6.4 million to support two daily trains crossing Missouri, one from Kansas City to St. Louis and another in the opposite direction. They stop at eight cities along the way: Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit and Independence.
Without the state’s support, the trains would cease to run, according to Jeff Briggs, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Wouldn’t this problem resolve itself if only Amtrak raised ticket prices?
Oh, bite my tongue and perhaps my nose as well; Amtrak isn’t a service, it’s trainfare, and any increase in ticket rates would adversely impact the poorest among us. Like the poverty-stricken anecdote that kicks off the Post-Dispatch story who works as an IT contractor in Kuwait and earns substinence wages doing so.
By raising the ticket prices and covering its costs, Amtrak would ensure that some people could still ride the trains, but Amtrak is a government entity. Its goal is not to cover its costs. Its goal is to exist. Also, to get bigger and get more tax money budget if possible.
Also, kudos to the Post-Dispatch reporter for leading with the story of someone returning from the Middle East to parallel the contractor with military men and women serving in the area.