Amtrak:

Auto Train Recovers Costs Required by Law

RCED-87-37: Published: Oct 7, 1986. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 1986.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO determined whether: (1) the National Rail Passenger Corporation's (Amtrak) Auto Train is recovering its costs; and (2) Amtrak uses its federal appropriations to subsidize Auto Train's operations.

GAO found that: (1) the Rail Passenger Service Act established a ceiling on the loss-per-passenger-mile that any train may sustain before Amtrak must suspend its operations; (2) in fiscal year 1985, the ceiling was 10.8 cents-per-passenger-mile; (3) Amtrak calculates losses based on short-term avoidable costs directly allocable to individual trains; (4) in 1985, none of Amtrak's trains or its total system covered operating costs; (5) Amtrak covered 58 percent of its total costs in 1985, and received a federal subsidy of $684 million; (6) Auto Train lost $6.6 million in 1985, and its short-term avoidable loss was 3.8 cents-per-passenger-mile; and (7) since Auto Train only covered 79 percent of its total costs, it benefited from the federal subsidy.

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