Response submitted to the Wall Street Journal August 23, 2007

Response submitted to “Crowds Heed Amtrak’s ‘All Aboard,’” in the Wall Street Journal, August 23, 2007.

To the editor of The Wall Street Journal:

Thank you for an insightful report on the public’s growing preference for train travel in the face of the Bush Administration’s continuing opposition to Amtrak (“Crowds Heed Amtrak’s ‘All Aboard,’ August 23). With a supportive White House, ridership growth would be even greater and more widespread.

As for the comment that some passengers are riding because “they think” Amtrak is more fuel efficient than the plane—they are right! The latest Energy Department statistics-for 2005-show that airlines on average consume 20% more energy per passenger-mile than Amtrak.

While the article noted that overnight trains suffer reliability problems, it did not mention the capacity problems that have faced these services as older equipment was retired and not replaced due to lack of federal commitment to the system’s capital needs. Even so, there has been ridership growth on these trains.

Reliability problems do not only plague overnight trains. Unfortunately, many state corridors are also suffering, including services around Chicago where a major, public-private infrastructure project to improve both passenger and freight train performance is proceeding slowly because of miserly federal funding.

Sincerely,
Ross B. Capon, Executive Director
National Association of Railroad Passengers