NARP President Ross Capon penned the following in response to this Boston Globe op-ed by former U.S. Senator John Sununu (R-NH):
To the editor of The Boston Globe:
You wouldn’t guess from John Sununu’s cherry-picked data (“Off the rails on Amtrak’s crazy train,” Sept. 5) that a huge portion of Amtrak expenses are for Northeast Corridor (NEC) capital investments. These consume $700 million annually—half Amtrak’s funding. This does not include work on the $100+ billion plan for a new Boston-Washington high speed line.
Instead, Sununu implies that long-distance trains consume the bulk of Amtrak’s federal grants. He calls NEC trains “profitable” – which is true only “above the rail.”
He sneers at leisure travel, which should offend the tourism industry. His statement about buying California Zephyr passengers airline tickets reflects ignorance that most passengers use intermediate stations, many with astronomical air fares or no air service. Also, many Americans cannot fly or drive.
The long-distance trains—the only Amtrak trains in 22 states—are valuable both in their own right and in facilitating start-ups of shorter-distance services. To end them would be to deny Americans the freedom to avoid the growing costs, congestion, and hassles of highway and air travel. It also would be a statement of federal disinterest in rural travel. America’s energy-efficient passenger railroad is too valuable to be torn apart.