WASHINGTON, D.C. — American Bus Association President and CEO Peter Pantuso told members of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on Sept. 20 that motorcoach transportation in the U.S. remains competitive against other modes despite Amtrak being partially supported by federal government funds.
“While the intercity bus industry must compete in the free market, its major intercity competition, including Amtrak, is heavily subsidized,” Pantuso said. “The American public is hungry for more transportation options. In a study released last week, the Natural Resources Defense Council found that three out of four Americans are frustrated with the lack of transportation options that forces them to drive more than they would prefer.
“As the subsidy gap between our industry and Amtrak continues to grow, bus operators will start to lose the price and time competition, not as a function of the free market, but because of government spending.”
Amtrak is not required to operate like a business covering both operational and capital costs like bus operators do, even on “profitable” corridors, Pantuso said.
“While this hurts competition in densely populated areas, it is a disaster for the industry and, more importantly, Americans living in more sparsely populated regions.”
At the hearing, Amtrak president Joe Boardman reported the subsidy per ticket is now 15% and dropping. Some members of the committee disputed those figures, responding that, on some routes, the subsidy is more than $300 per ticket.
Private motorcoach companies, which are recording strong year-to-year growth, and Amtrak have many areas of common interest, Pantuso said. He pledged that ABA members will continue to work with Amtrak on a variety of projects.
“In the end, it's all about moving passengers safely and comfortably to their destination," Pantuso said. “ABA wishes to thank members of the Committee — in particular, Chairman John Mica of Florida — for the opportunity to discuss important issues in the transportation industry with the members.”
Source: American Bus Association