"Amtrak ridership growth" (Illustrating a Point - March 28th edition) confirms why real long-term solutions are worthwhile.
If only our elected officials would support decisive action, and develop a dedicated capital revenue stream that could include allocating a penny per gallon gasoline tax to Amtrak. These funds could provide a reliable yearly source for financing capital investments to upgrade tracks, signals, stations and maintenance facilities.
Any responsible agency needs the assistance of a long-term dedicated secure revenue stream. Perhaps establish a reasonable minimum fare box recovery rate of 50 percent to justify continued operation of any route.
And give local governments one year to come up with locally generated operating assistance to support service on routes to those communities that can't meet this goal.
In the long run, these simple reforms would take the politics out of intercity passenger service.
With all of this in place, many more routes could survive, and some would grow stronger. How many times have winter storms stranded thousands at airports while Amtrak kept rolling?
The ability of Amtrak to reduce travel time by increasing the speed of the service in high-density corridors can provide consumers with choices other than flying.