Amtrak's Gourmet Menus and Financial Losses Draw John Mica's Fire
Around the State
U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., is urging Amtrak to go a little bit leaner -- at least when it comes to food services on its trains.
Mica, who chaired the House Transportation Committee and still remains on it, is upset about reports that Amtrak is relying on some of the nation’s most celebrated chefs to redo its food services. Amtrak even has 12 of the top chefs in the nation as its Culinary Advisory Team.”
“Despite Amtrak food service losses over the past 11 years now topping $906 million, master gourmet chefs continue to dish up recipes for costly gourmet train cuisine,” Mica said on Tuesday.
Mica insisted that Amtrak, which relies heavily on taxpayer funding, needs to cut down on food services. The Florida congressman pointed to figures showing taxpayers pay absurd amounts to subsidize food sold on Amtrak including $4.37 for every hamburger and $1.40 for each soda sold on the trains.
Noting that some of the long-distance trains lose $400 per ticket sold, Mica slammed meals sold on the Sunset Limited East, California Zephyr and Southwest Chief routes which include salmon and lamb shank. “Taxpayers would choke if they knew the costs of these gourmet meals,” Mica said on Tuesday.
Mica promised congressional action to cut the fat from Amtrack’s menus. As the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Government Operations, Mica said he would use it as a vehicle to investigate.
“With a $72 million food service loss in 2012, it’s time for Congress to stem the financial bleeding from chef-inspired gourmet meals on Amtrak’s money-losing routes,” Mica said. “I intend to have our Government Operations Subcommittee investigate these outrageous expenditures and have asked Rail Subcommittee Chairman Jeff Denham to also review these practices. With a total $1.4 billion Amtrak taxpayer subsidy for just the last year, extravagant chef-designed dishes need to be considered for the chopping block.”
Sunshine State News asked Amtrak for a response on Mica’s comments on Tuesday. A member of Amtrak's Media Relations Department replied on Tuesday that Amtrak would not comment on this issue.
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