The US postal service and Amtrak: which one will go bankrupt first?

Will it be the USPS? (H/T Wes)


Inspector general David Williams says cash-strapped service, saddled with debt and low revenues, is in ‘very serious trouble’.

The chief postal watchdog has warned that the troubled US Postal Service will go out of business this year unless Congress acts to rescue it.

David Williams, the inspector general of the USPS, says the service is in “very serious trouble”, after five years lumbered with heavy debt and falling revenues.

In an interview with the Guardian, Williams warns that Congress, which has been distracted by November’s elections and the fiscal cliff crisis, must act this year to save the service.

The USPS lost over $16bn last year, and has lost about $41bn over the past five years, according to Robert Taub, a vice-chairman of the Postal Regulatory Commission.

Or will it be Amtrak?


Amtrak triumphantly proclaimed 2012 to be a success. The reason? It posted a loss of only $361 million for the year. That’s its smallest operating loss since 1975, amid growing ridership along the Northeast Corridor between Washington and Boston. Although this represents progress in the right direction, Amtrak is still not worth what it costs American taxpayers.

Amtrak has never been profitable. From its outset in 1971, it has been backed by taxpayers with billions of dollars in direct aid and loans. Over the past three years alone, Amtrak has received more than $4.4 billion in federal aid, and it still was not able to finish any of those years in the black.

[…]But after more than 40 years of government funding, $4.4 billion in aid over the past three years should be particularly disconcerting. Rail transportation is not becoming cheaper because of government investment in the market; to the contrary, the price has gone up, especially as compared with other major public works projects.

[…]Rather than successfully spurring on American business, Amtrak provides slower trains at higher prices. It is a symbol of government waste because it fails to make any progress toward self-sufficiency and fails to innovate.

It is time to admit this train has left the station. Amtrak cannot and will not be run efficiently with the backstop of government funding behind it. Someday, a public-private partnership on railroads could be in the American interest, as it has been in the past. But for Amtrak, the government should shut off the spigot.

Or will Obama just borrow a few more trillion from your children, so that his public sector supporters in USPS and Amtrak can continue to vote for socialism?

The funny thing about this is that we could sell these wasteful government-owned organizations and privatize their functions. Then we wouldn’t have to sink more and more taxpayer money in public sector boondoggles.

3 thoughts on “The US postal service and Amtrak: which one will go bankrupt first?”

  1. We are seeing changes……the rise of FedEx in the 1990’s. UPS has been around for a long time. Companies like Mail Boxes Ect, stationary / office supply shops that can handle many of the operations the USPS used to do because the USPS got so expensive, and…good old fashioned competition in the end will destroy the USPS. Sooner than later now the USPS will crumble under it’s own weight (mostly in unfunded liabilities like overblown pensions, pay, entitlements, scandals, and outright theft of assets, money and supply)

    and Congress would be allowed to reform it because the Constitution allows for a postal system. Other groups sooner than later are going to appear…like they have been…slowly and will put the USPS to shame.

    the problem many Americans have with the USPS and Amtrak…is not that they hate programs like this, or don’t want to “float” them during a rough period of time, but too many of the employees and people in these organizations have more loyalty to a Union than to the taxpayers they are serving.

    When was the last time you saw an Amtrak or USPS Union official tear up a “contract” and tell the American people…yeah, we really have to help the nation out, let’s re-negotiate pay, health, some privatization…

    Yeah never.


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