This is not the time to consider cutting back on the increasingly successful Amtrak Keystone route between New York and Harrisburg by way of Philadelphia. But that service could be curtailed if negotiators for Amtrak and the state Department of Transportation can’t agree on a way to cover costs.
Amtrak must end its $8 million contribution on Oct. 1, 2013, under a 2008 law requiring Amtrak to shift operating costs to the states. The train operator would continue to cover infrastructure maintenance.
Pennsylvania has had time to plan for the subsidy shift, but with a tight budget and Gov. Corbett’s refusal to raise taxes, service could be cut back. Pennsylvania already spends $9 million a year to underwrite the Keystone line’s operations.
Dropping the line would be a shame, considering that efficient rail service makes Pennsylvania more attractive to businesses. Sending thousands of riders to Pennsylvania’s neglected highways would be a problem for everyone. It would add to traffic, worsen the wear and tear on crumbling roads, and increase air pollution.