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Photo of Amtrak prices over Thanksgiving has people outraged: 'We desperately need a regional transit policy'

Amtrak is federally funded, and it has not made money since its inception in 1971.

Amtrak is federally funded, and it has not made money since its inception in 1971.

Photo Credit: iStock

A recent post on X showed the price of train tickets for the day before Thanksgiving to be prohibitively expensive.

Tony Melone, the chair of the 44th Assembly District Committee in Brooklyn, shared on the site formerly known as Twitter that one-way Amtrak tickets for two adults and two children from New York City to Boston cost $774.

"We desperately need a regional transit policy that's not 'everybody can just drive!'" Melone wrote Sept. 23.

Melone showed that the cheapest option, for $276, was a train that departed the Big Apple at 11:20 a.m. and didn't arrive in Beantown until 8:32 p.m. It was 50% booked, while the more expensive options — trips of less than four-and-a-half hours — were only up to 30% full.

One commenter noted they had bought a last-minute ticket for the same trek the week prior for just $62.

The time around Thanksgiving includes some of the busiest travel days of the year, and the Northeast corridor is the most traveled track nationwide, but users pointed out that tickets shouldn't be that much more expensive.

Amtrak is federally funded and has not made money since its inception in 1971. In 2021, the service was granted $22 billion to expand its network and make it more accessible via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. CNBC reported the company hopes to increase ridership by 20 million people per year and move into high-growth areas devoid of passenger rail service, including Texas, Florida, and Arizona.

Trains are a comparatively sustainable form of travel; airplanes and cars produce much more planet-warming gases. The Biden administration says Amtrak trains in the Northeast are up to 83% more efficient than cars and 72% better than flying.

If tickets were more affordable as well, it could help people choose the more environmentally conscious option.

If cheaper tickets aren't in the offing, perhaps other clean modes of transportation will be. Amtrak's first intercity electric bus debuted in Washington state in August. And though New York-to-Boston wouldn't fit this requirement, the European Union in 2022 allowed France to ban flights between cities that can be reached by bus or train in two-and-a-half hours.

"Woooooow," one user said of the costly tickets. "I'm sitting on a Japanese bullet train which takes 4.5 hours between Tokyo and Kyushu. Cost is around $150 one way. Still considered expensive here."

Another wrote: "Assuming scheduling is prohibitive of running more trains, isn't it always an option to run a few more cars in the consist? And wouldn't Amtrak profit more, when folks aren't repelled by the cost?"

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