Growing Amtrak Ridership On A Collision Course With Political Surrealism

golden railroad spike photo

"The Last Spike" which originally linked the nation in commerce. Image credit:National Park Service
The Hill reports that "Amtrak had more riders in March than it has had in any March in its 40 years of existence, the company said Thursday. There were 137,000 more Amtrak riders this past month, the company said, which was the 17th straight month of increased ridership. That puts the company on track to break its annual ridership record, which was 28.7 million last year, Amtrak said."

So...with ridership growth like this, how come those wacky Republicans oppose high speed trains, a proven technology? And, if the interstate highway system has never been profitable (which indeed is the case), why do they demand Amtrak be profitable?Obviously, crowded highways and rising gasoline prices are leading more people to seek affordable, safe, convenient ways to travel - trains. Once the gasoline price hits 4 or 5 bucks a gallon and stays there - a predetermined outcome within the next several years - they are going to be scalping train tickets.

train interior photo

"AVE Class 100 refurbished standard class" Caption & image credit:FLickr, Matthew Black photo stream.

Note: By the term "political surrealism" I mean that the railroads which once united America are being used as a "wedge issue" to divide the US politically. Don't tell me ideological opposition to Amtrak and high speed trains is justified because 'we're broke' and passenger rail should be privately owned, exclusively.

The RR companies that drove the golden spike linking the West and East coasts of the USA (as pictured above) got huge land grants from the US taxpayers. No way could they have united the nation without those grants.

Private companies can't build or upgrade interstate railroad tracks on their own. Crossing multiple political units takes Federal involvement and there isn't a high speed train in the world that wasn't put together without government support: direct and/or indirect.

It is as if we have lost our survival instinct, driving a lead spike into the civics text.