Tuesday, September 16, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

A look at Amtrak's 40 years in business

Yeah, we know this blog is about air travel, but in the Philadelphia area, air service would be much different if it weren't for a much-maligned, taxpayer-assisted transporation service that will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Sunday, May 1. Amtrak, set up by Congress in 1971 out of desperation when most rail service in the Northeast was near death, today is riding a crest of popularity and support, with ridership growing as gas prices and air fares go up. You may still find some members of Congress, usually Republicans from other parts of the country, still calling Amtrak and other public-transportation investments a waste of money. But politicians from the Northeast don't dare.

A look at Amtrak's 40 years in business

Yeah, we know this blog is about air travel, but in the Philadelphia area, air service would be much different if it weren't for a much-maligned, taxpayer-assisted transporation service that will celebrate its 40th anniversary on Sunday, May 1. Amtrak, set up by Congress in 1971 out of desperation when most rail service in the Northeast was near death, today is riding a crest of popularity and support, with ridership growing as gas prices and air fares go up. You may still find some members of Congress, usually Republicans from other parts of the country, still calling Amtrak and other public-transportation investments a waste of money. But politicians from the Northeast don't dare.

The trade paper Travel Weekly has an excellent historical article by Bill Poling, one of its longtime Washington correspondents, about Amtrak and why it continues to prosper. 

Tom Belden
About this blog
Tom Belden has been reporting about Philadelphia International Airport and other air travel subjects for more than 20 years, writing columns for The Inquirer's Travel and Business sections. His reporting (with colleague Craig McCoy) on baggage handling problems in Philadelphia have been credited with helping to improve the system. His previous blog was called Road Warrior. He can reached at tbelden@phillynews.com. Reach Tom at tbelden@phillynews.com.

Tom Belden
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