Re: House Amtrak Funding
Author: Bob Huddy
Date: 07-25-2007 - 15:12
A few years ago, I looked up the national income data on transportation spending as a part of Gross Domestic Product.
This came about because of the questions about "subsidies" for transit. Some tax supported services are, in fact collective-societal consumption choices. I can't afford individually to buy "bob's train". And, motorists and truckers who don't have me blocking their way on the freeway, would get what economists call a "free ride" for me taking the train. So we choose as a society to support some consumption activities in imperfect market situations with taxes.
In America back in the early 2000's we spent about $800 billion of our then about 8.5 Trillion GDP on surface transportation (auto's, fuel, roads, insurance, transit, etc.). By the way, this does not include $240 Billion in deaths and injuries, overwhelmingly from auto related accidents, nor national defense costs related to our dependency on imported oil. Transit's share was approximately $27 billion. In that year transit, including Amtrak, recieved about 3% of the total, but carried approximately 5% of the trips. So it would appear that we, in America, get about what we are willing to pay for. Some other nations appear to be willing to pay more, and they get more.