I like Amtrak. Unfortunately it has gotten a bad rap since it first started operations in the 1970s. It was created by the US government to save passenger rail. The railroads handed over their money losing passenger operations to Amtrak and became pure freight railroads. And what did congress expect this new railroad to do with these loss ridden trains? Make a profit! It is quite funny. You expect Amtrak to make money on something that basically it cannot. Congress at the time and even today, is stuck in the golden age of rail in the US. Highways, cars, trucks, and airplanes ended it. Also, railroads didn’t make too much money off passenger operations. Freight subsidized passenger service.
Amtrak pretty much saved passenger rail in the US. Right off the bat, it purchased new equipment and improved the quality of service. It’s service is mostly on time. It continues to improve the tracks it owns, but infrastructure projects are extremely expensive. Overall, it has done a good job. Yes, prices on the Northeast Corridor are expensive, but that is supply and demand. Yes, horror stories happen. The thing to remember is that the airlines are guilty of the same, like being stuck on the runway for three hours.
I remember a few months ago, people complained that the railroad was incompetent because it lost money on its food services. If people think losing some food is incompetence then they don’t know the government. Amtrak got the rap because they are a public face in so many words. In regards to government incompetence, remember that every year agencies discard overall new computers, furniture, cars, and so on.
A couple days ago, the Times published an article about how federal aid is getting cut on Amtrak’s short haul routes and how states have to decide if they are going to pick up the tab. It makes sense, if a route is only serving a single state then local money should be kicked in. It’s fair. For example, Amtrak California is funded by the State of California and operated by Amtrak. It’s a good system and people like it.
In conclusion, ride Amtrak.