NBC Evening News for Wednesday, Oct 12, 1977
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(Studio) Amtrak isn't as successful as backers had hoped; appears system will continue to need government support, but is important to many people.
REPORTER: John Chancellor
(NYC) At Amtrak's inaugural ceremonies in May, 1971, then Trans. Secretary John Volpe was asked with regard to costs. (Film shown.) [VOLPE - says corporation will have to make money to stay in business and must, within 2 years, start to break even.] Amtrak has done nothing but lose money; losses each year listed. Now retired, Volpe is asked what happened. [VOLPE - notes equipment corporation took over was in worse condition than believed and Congress made Amtrak continue routes that were real money-losers.] Amtrak's DC-New York City route has been real success, but it hasn't made inroads into travel habits in much of rest of country Its Floridian train, which goes from Chicago to Miami, is big loser, but people who ride it would rather do so than travel otherwise. [MAN - doesn't like to fly and thinks it's unnecessary to drive car for one passenger.] [2nd MAN - notes beautiful scenery.] Reasons for Floridian losing money cited. [Amtrak president Paul REISTRUP - admits Floridian is loser; thinks it runs through wrong cities and is example of need to restructure Amtrak.] In report released this week, Amtrak describes plans to reexamine entire system; some plans already in process. Corporation has kept from withdrawing service from money-losing runs, to keep from angering Congmen. who might cut corp.'s subsidy.; has also refused to consider reduction plan of former Trans. Secretary William Coleman, to run only in populated areas needing train service. (Coleman plan shown on map.) [COLEMAN - says idea of bigger system being run for profit wasn't true in beginning, isn't true now and is drain on taxpayers' funds.] In spite of losses, outlook is that Amtrak will continue operation and huge subsidies will keep going to it.
REPORTER: Robert Hager