An Analysis of Amtrak's Five Year Plan

PAD-78-51: Published: Mar 6, 1978. Publicly Released: Mar 6, 1978.

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Although the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (AMTRAK) was established to be a self-sustaining corporation, the 1977 5-year plan indicated that the Federal Government is now paying for AMTRAK's capital expenses and about 60 percent of its operating expenses. AMTRAK's 5-year plan was reviewed from two perspectives: the insight it provides into decisions that Congress must make in deciding how to fund AMTRAK in coming years; and its adequacy as an information source for congressional decisionmaking.

In some respects, the 1977 plan is an improvement over past plans. However, the plan should have certain basic characteristics: it should compare actual experience with previous forecasts and should describe changes from the previous year, basic parts of the plan should be integrated with each other, and the plan should discuss alternatives or options if requested funding is not provided or if projections are wrong. AMTRAK's current plan cannot be reconciled to prior plans; the revenues, expenses, and capital sections of the plan are not integrated; and the plan does not discuss options available if funding is not provided or projections are wrong. Alternative uses of the 5-year plan involve determining the amount of the Federal subsidy and evaluating AMTRAK performance.

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