After posting historic spending shortfalls in 2021 and 2022, Amtrak plans to spend more in fiscal year 2024 as federal funding expands to “unprecedented” levels.
Amtrak posted operating losses of $1.08 billion in 2021 and $886.8 million in 2022, far exceeding pre-COVID losses, but still continuing to expand. By comparison, Amtrak lost $29.4 million in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit.
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According to Amtrak, the increase in spending was related to the pandemic.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021. The law allows $1.2 trillion for transportation and infrastructure spending, $550 billion of which will go to “new” investments and programs. Amtrak will receive $85.2 billion through IIJA from Fiscal Year 2022 through Fiscal Year 2026.
“IIJA provides us with an unprecedented level of funding for capital projects,” Amtrak stated in a 2022 report.
Amtrak stated that it has a “historic increase in the number and size of capital projects now being advanced with IIJA funding” and will have hired 8,500 new employees in 2023 and 2024. The company says it has about 20,000 employees.
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Amtrak is slowly recovering the number of passengers lost during the pandemic, but has not yet returned to previous levels.
Antony Davies, an associate professor of economics at Duquesne University, was critical of Amtrak’s expansion.
“Above all, there is one consistent behavior that distinguishes government-sponsored companies, such as Amtrak, from privately funded companies,” Davies said in an email to The Center Square. “When privately financed companies go bankrupt, investors refuse their financing and close. But when government-sponsored enterprises fail, politicians force taxpayers to give them more money and they continue to exist as permanent guardians of the state.”
Syndicated with permission from the Center Square.
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