Politics

Amtrak's Gourmet Menus and Financial Losses Draw John Mica's Fire

By: Kevin Derby | Posted: June 19, 2013 3:55 AM
Amtrak Train

Amtrak train at the Tampa Union Station | Credit: Andy Callahan - Flickr

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.‭”

This isn’t sitting well with Mica who points to Amtrak’s continued losses despite taxpayer support.‭

“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.‭



Reach Kevin Derby at kderby@sunshinestatenews.com or at‭ ‬904- ‬521-3722


Comments (3)

Paul Fishell
11:14AM JUN 20TH 2013
$1.4 billion is what the federal government wastes in the time it took to leave this reply. Compared to most Washington spending, Amtrak is a bargain.
William
9:33AM JUN 23RD 2013
It's true the government wastes money on worse things than Amtrak, but money wasted is money wasted. Amtrak is NOT a "bargain".
William
11:07PM JUN 19TH 2013
Amtrak is better than PBS, but they both suffer from the same problem. The government shouldn't be running a broadcasting company, or a passenger train service.

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