Taxpayer Cash Fails to Fix Amtrak Breakdown Crisis Under Biden

Amtrak, the national passenger railroad company in the U.S., remains plagued by routine breakdowns despite the hefty sums of taxpayer dollars it has received from the Biden administration, as per data from the Department of Transportation (DOT).

Since 2021, there have been a total of 333 reported incidents involving Amtrak trains across the nation up to July 9, 2024. This figure is slightly lower than the 397 incidents that occurred from 2016 to July 2020 during the Trump administration, according to the DOT. The Biden administration, under the guise of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act’s $66 billion for passenger rail, has allocated vast amounts of taxpayer money to Amtrak, including a $4 billion injection towards the end of 2022, according to the White House.

Of the incidents occurring under Biden’s watch, the breakdown includes 66 derailments, 84 obstructions, five fires or violent ruptures, 115 rail crossings over roads, and 54 incidents categorized as “other,” resulting in a total of $4 million in equipment damages since 2021.

The most recent disruption on Amtrak’s record happened on a Saturday due to a faulty circuit breaker causing a power outage that disrupted services on the New York and Boston lines. Officials attributed the outage to a lightning strike, with Amtrak managing to restore service by 9:50 p.m. and offering to waive fees for customers changing reservations.

Since its establishment in 1971, Amtrak has consistently operated at a loss, projected to continue hemorrhaging $1 billion annually moving forward. Despite this track record, the Biden administration has been a vocal advocate for passenger rail, hailing it as a more convenient and eco-friendly alternative to driving or flying. The administration has spearheaded plans for 25 new passenger rail projects in the Northeast corridor, aligning with Biden’s vision for top-tier passenger rail services.

The White House has touted its investments in passenger rail as part of its infrastructure push, claiming to address longstanding infrastructure needs and enhance connectivity for communities nationwide. Despite the administration’s enthusiasm, concerns linger over the efficacy of such massive investments, particularly in light of ongoing operational challenges faced by Amtrak.

In a recent announcement, the Biden administration extended $3.07 billion to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, despite the project’s lack of substantial progress since receiving initial funding approval in 2008. Questions regarding the allocation of taxpayer funds and the efficiency of such projects have been raised, prompting calls for greater oversight and accountability in government spending on transportation initiatives.

As Amtrak grapples with operational setbacks and reliability issues, the spotlight remains firmly on the corporation’s ability to deliver efficient and effective rail services, especially in the face of continued taxpayer support.

Written by Staff Reports

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