A reader writes in reply to my earlier article on why high speed rail is better than flying:
That DB fare is not at all connected to the cost of running the train. DB is far more subsidized than Amtrak is. [PDF warning] DB reports profits of about $1.94 per train mile while the railroad is receiving $36.78 in public funding. When public funding is taken into consideration, DB Train Operations actually cost the German government $34.88 per train mile. Similarly, passenger rail operations in the other five European countries cost their governments between $13.77 to $27.78 per train mile.
I make no claim that DB less subsidized than Amtrak. However, the report he linked is comparing apples to bratwursts. The level of service isn’t even comparable between Amtrak and DB. On Amtrak the speeds are slower, on older equipment that is close to worn out in stations that are mostly falling apart.
The one flaw in that study that immediately jumps out at me however is that they compared all of DB to just the Amtrak NEC and corridor services. However, DB operates all of the local trains as well as freight. So to have a proper comparison, the study should have also included NJTransit Rail, SEPTA’s Rail (not the subway, trolly, and bus services), MARC, Long Island RR, Metro North, Chicago’s Metra, Chicago’s South Shore, etc etc.
If rail in the US were operated like in Germany, than all of those other companies I mentioned would be part of Amtrak rather than their own entities. Take THOSE subsides into account and the operational subsidy will be much closer and the resulting disparty in service levels and quality will appear that much more drastic.
Senator John McCain kicked out a healthcare reform protester from his Townhall meeting today.
The anger being thrown at the health care debat baffles me. From my observations, the people protesting the loudest against the public/government option are the ones without health care. Talk about fighting against your own best interest!! What I don’t understand is this idea that if the government offers a low cost health care plan, suddenly we’re all going to be in a socialist health care system like the one Great Britain has. This is not socialized medicine, it’s socialized insurance.
The big insurance companies have gotten so greedy, they have brought this on themselves. By colluding to charge higher rates to their subscribers and lower payouts to the medical centers they’ve taken a “5 for me, 1 for you” attitude. The government option would force insurance companies to compete on cost and payouts again.
Government insurance should be thought of like Amtrak. It’s government funded, and I make no illusion that it will break even. Still, for people who can’t afford to fly and don’t own a car, it’s the next best option. Amtrak will get you from Pittsburgh to DC in relative comfort for an inexpensive price.
I’m in favor of a government option because it means that someday if I decide to become solely self employed, I’ll have an easier time getting health care. When I lost my job a few years back, my Cobra benefits were nearly $400 a month for a 25 year old, non-smoking male in good health. I ended up dropping the Cobra and got catastrophic insurance coverage but it still cost me $175 a month.
Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said yesterday “the people are speaking and we should listen”. Let see. House – 256 dems to 178 reps, Senate – 57 dems to 40 reps, Whitehouse – Dem 1, Reps 0.
I agree Congressman. I agree.