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Beltway Confidential

Amtrak lost $800M on cheeseburgers and soda

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Beltway Confidential,Joel Gehrke

Taxpayers lost $833 million over the last decade on the food and beverages supplied by Amtrak, which managed to spend $1.70 for every dollar that received in revenue.

“Over the last ten years, these losses have amounted to a staggering $833.8 million,” said Rep.John Mica, R-Fla., in a statement previewing a House hearing today.  “It costs passengers $9.50 to buy a cheeseburger on Amtrak, but the cost to taxpayers is $16.15.  Riders pay $2.00 for a Pepsi, but each of these sodas costs the U.S. Treasury $3.40.”

"Amazon.com is currently selling 24-packs of 12 ounce Pepsi cans for $8.94 -- which averages to about 75 cents per can."

Amtrak President Joe Boardman tried encourage House investigators by telling them that last year's losses represent an improvement over previous years. "Our ongoing programs have certainly delivered measurable financial efficiencies," Boardman told Congress in his written testimony today. "In 2006, our food and beverage service recovered 49 percent of their costs. In 2011, these services recovered 59 percent of their costs," he testified.

The food service is legally obligated to break even, but Amtrak lost $84 million just last year. “The rail service’s food and beverage operation has 1,234 employees, and taking into account Amtrak’s $84.5 million loss last year, that’s $68, 476 per employee," Mica said.

(This post has been updated)

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