The Ethan Allen Express subsidy

This surfaced in a Jan. 1 letter to the editor published in one of Vermont's daily newspapers. The letter was penned by a Glen Head resident who wants the taxpayers of Vermont to continue to subsidize his rail visits to Vermont via Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express.

This quant, anarchronistic rail service to Theme Park Vermont doesn't pay its own costs, although if we could tax the dealers who are rumored to use this train to funnel illegal drugs to Vermont, why it'd pay for itself and then some. No matter, the fares are too low and Amtrak requires a Vermont taxpayer subsidy to continue the Ethan Allen from Penn Station to Rutland.

The full annual subsidy amount is $2.2M, which is revealed by adding the Vermont AoT's figure of $1.4M saved by stopping the Ethan Allen, plus $800K saved by not starting up the bus substitute. It works out to $68 per rider, the Herald reports. That's $3 more than the standard adult fare, which Amtrak posts on its web site at $65. This suggests that the real cost is $133, of which the rider is expected to pay a bit less than half. That's an even better buy for the letter writer than his MTA Penn Station fare, where he has to pay a bit more than half.

I tend to agree with those who speculate that Glen Headers like this letter writer would not readily self-demote in transportation-class from train to bus if only stingy Vermonters were willing to spring for that lesser subsidy.

If I may speculate on the letter writer's family finances: I would guess that his plea for continued Vermont-taxpayer subsidy for their Rutland visits derives from his personal cash-flow challenges, and that, even though his family may be making $93K, maybe they're maxed out on all the plastic?

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