Amtrak is an intercity train service currently owned by the United States government. There are a number of critics who believe that the government should not own Amtrak and that Amtrak should be sold to a privately-owned company. These critics put forward several arguments to support their position.
First, the critics point out that the government loses money on many Amtrak routes. In its effort to serve citizens in all parts of the country, Amtrak maintains routes even in remote and less populated areas. Those routes are not used by enough passengers to cover the cost of maintaining them. The amount of money lost every year due to underuse is sizeable: the government loses up to several hundred dollars per passenger on some routes, and the total losses due to underuse add up to hundreds of millions of dollars every year. If Amtrak was privatized, these unprofitable routes could be cut.
Second, government ownership of Amtrak is unfair to privately owned transportation companies such as airlines. Government funding of Amtrak means that ticket prices on Amtrak are cheaper than they otherwise would be. However, the government does not give airline companies money so they can lower their ticket prices. This situation clearly is unfair to airlines and other private transportation companies because they must compete against trains for customers.
Third, critics maintain that if the government wants to support national transportation, it should spend its money elsewhere. Rail travel is relatively unimportant in the United States: Amtrak currently transports less than 1 percent of the people traveling between cities. A large majority of intercity travelers use other means of transport, such as private cars. The critics argue that rather than finance Amtrak, the government should direct its funding at maintaining and improving the highway system so that intercity car travel becomes faster and more efficient.
Summarize the points made in the lecture, being sure to explain how they respond to the specific points made in the reading passage.