Amtrak's business operations need strengthening, GAO says

NATION DIGEST

Nation Digest

November 04, 2005

WASHINGTON -- Amtrak needs to improve the way it monitors performance and oversees its finances to reach solid financial ground, congressional investigators said yesterday.

"While Amtrak has recently reduced costs, revenues are declining faster than costs, leading to operating losses exceeding $1 billion annually," the Government Accountability Office reported. "These losses are projected to grow by 40 percent within four years."

The GAO recommended that the transportation secretary direct the federal railroad administrator to: require Amtrak to submit a plan laying out specifically how it will improve its financial operations; provide Amtrak with direction on how to do so; and monitor Amtrak's performance and report to Congress on the railroad's progress.

Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta called the GAO report "unusual, if not unprecedented, in the scope of its review and the severity of its indictment."

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