Unfortunately allowing Amtrak to die an honorable death (Open Forum Nov. 23) just because it loses money is not the answer to all of our problems. Our nation's highway system and air system also are not "profitable" if measured solely by the direct revenue received vs. money spent, as the writer suggests for Amtrak. Why not charge air travelers for the entire cost of security rather than just $2.50/flight as is done now? Why not require the airlines to fully fund their own pensions rather than put this multi-billion dollar burden on the taxpayers, as was the case with United Airlines and probably will be with Delta and/or Northwest? Right now taxes on airline tickets are between 12 and 50 percent of the ticket price and that still does not cover the government's cost of maintaining an adequate and safe air traffic system.
Our taxes are supposed to be used in part to support infrastructure. Perhaps if more Americans were willing to be slightly "inconvenienced" by using mass transit more, this could not only help congested highways but save vital energy resources as well. Europeans for one have grasped this concept and have an incredibly efficient mass transit system. We have a lot to learn. And funny that the Twin Cities light rail line was mentioned in the letter. Ridership on the light rail line has been more than 50 percent greater than expected and revenue comparably greater than expected.
My wish is for wise use of our tax dollars for all forms of transportation, be it highways, air transportation or mass transit such as trains. We need a good balance between all of them.
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