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Amtrak should pay own way in Missouri

Thursday, February 5, 2004

It's that time of year. It's the time when Amtrak asks Missouri taxpayers to subsidize their daily train service between St. Louis and Kansas City. Amtrak wants just over $6 million to help offset costs on the two daily trains with eight stops in between. I've long thought this is a waste and inappropriate expenditure of our tax dollars.

Without the additional state funding, Amtrak says they will be forced to halt one of the two trains that run daily between the two urban centers. The rail service has already made cuts in some stops along the way but they are seeking the state tax dollars nonetheless.

We're obviously in a state budget crunch. On that point there is total agreement. And I don't pretend that a minor $6 million subsidy will balance the state books. But in these times we have to look at all areas of spending and that most certainly includes Amtrak.

The state says that ridership on Amtrak is at the lowest point in the past eight years. A number of factors have brought about that result. But if it takes charging passengers a higher fare to make the daily trips, then let those who use the service pay more of their share. And let's put more tax dollars into those programs that impact the largest number of Missourians.



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