This Day On The Street
Continue to site right-arrow
This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
Cramer's Action Alerts PLUS - See his portfolio and get alerts BEFORE every trade. Learn more NOW!

Where Amtrak Service Makes Sense

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- To people outside the Northeast, stories about Amtrak seem quaint.

Stories about people huddled overnight in trains or of entire train systems going down due to extreme cold are oddities to most Americans because passenger train systems themselves are a product of something most of the country doesn't have.


As population density increases, the need for transit grows because trains scale better than cars. Places like Manhattan could not exist if everyone had to drive a car to get anywhere. The roads are jammed as it is.

As population density increases, the cost of road travel increases exponentially. Roads have to be repaired more often and accidents happen. Roads under repair create traffic jams, and frayed nerves create more accidents.

With trains you can add cars and increase trip frequency. Density makes the train experience more convenient and comfortable.

I learned this on a recent trip to New York City. I was able to get from Times Square to downtown at 11:30 p.m. without even thinking about the schedule. During the same hours in Atlanta, which is less dense, trains run 20 minutes apart.

So in our biggest cities, and in traveling between cities close to one another, passenger trains remain essential. For other parts of the country, not so much.

This is reflected in Amtrak's finances, which illustrate the irony involved in the whole "train subsidy" debate.

Amtrak loses $1.5 billion each year, but dropping routes that are more than 400 miles long would let it break even, according to a Brookings Institution report from last March.  

In other words, it's in serving the people who oppose train subsidies that the need for subsidies is created.

1 of 2

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Action Alerts PLUS

Portfolio Manager Jim Cramer and Director of Research Jack Mohr reveal their investment tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
Quant Ratings

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
Stocks Under $10

David Peltier uncovers low dollar stocks with serious upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
14-Days Free
Try it NOW
Only $9.95
Try it NOW
14-Days Free
Try it NOW

Check Out Our Best Services for Investors

Dividend Stock Advisor

David Peltier identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Trifecta Stocks

Every recommendation goes through 3 layers of intense scrutiny—quantitative, fundamental and technical analysis—to maximize profit potential and minimize risk.

Product Features:
  • Model Portfolio
  • Intra Day Trade alerts
  • Access to Quant Ratings
Options Profits

Our options trading pros provide over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • Actionable options commentary and news
  • Real-time trading community
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
Try it NOW
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
AAPL $126.28 -1.80%
FB $81.32 0.53%
GOOG $576.14 0.48%
TSLA $201.79 -0.32%
YHOO $44.05 0.14%


DOW 18,119.23 +22.33 0.12%
S&P 500 2,098.77 +0.24 0.01%
NASDAQ 4,973.6660 +6.5250 0.13%

Partners Compare Online Brokers

Free Reports

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs