Information on Subsidies in Thruway Bus Operations

RCED-95-138: Published: May 9, 1995. Publicly Released: May 9, 1995.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO reviewed the National Rail Passenger Corporation's (Amtrak) feeder bus service to its network of intercity passenger trains, focusing on: (1) whether Amtrak is using its federal operating grant to subsidize the bus service; and (2) bus passengers' contributions to covering the cost of their train trips as compared to other Amtrak passengers' contributions.

GAO found that: (1) Amtrak does not use federal funds to subsidize its feeder bus operations; (2) 15 of the 30 charter bus routes are part of California's state-supported system, which offsets the losses on 14 of its routes; (3) the revenues generated by California bus passengers more than cover the marginal costs of transporting those additional passengers on Amtrak trains; (4) the 13 charter routes outside of the California system earn more than enough to cover the full costs of the bus contract and the marginal costs of the bus passengers' train trips; (5) both bus and rail passengers benefit from the federal subsidy supporting the rail portion of their trip; (6) for the non-California bus routes, bus passengers pay about as much per mile for their train trips as the rail-only passengers; (7) passengers from several bus routes pay slightly less per mile for their train trip than other rail passengers; and (8) bus passengers represent net revenue to Amtrak and lessen the amount of the federal subsidy needed to operate Amtrak.

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