Amtrak food costs have led to more than $800 million in losses for the company over the last 10 years, due in the most part to waste and employee theft.
The revelation of the Amtrak food costs losses came this week when the railroad’s finances were audited by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, the New York Times reported. The numbers play into a debate over how Amtrak should be run, with Republican lawmakers suggesting that Amtrak food services should be privatized.
Amtrak is subsidized by the government and has operated at a loss for many years, Atlantic Wire reported, but Thursday was the first time the scope of the inefficiency was reported.Two different departments oversee Amtrak food costs, but they haven’t coordinated with each other stop losses or prevent employee theft, the Atlantic Wire report said.
The audit from the Government Accountability Office and Amtrak‘s inspector general found that the company suffered about $80 million in losses a year selling food, and since 2002 it had lost a total of $834 million. The company said it was increasing the use of credit cards to prevent employees from stealing cash and would also be cutting staff and improving its inventory system.
The bulk of Amtrak’s food cost losses came on long-distance routes, the company’s inspector general found.
“It’s an outrageous cost to taxpayers,” said John L. Mica, a Republican from Florida and chairman of the House committee. “There has to be a better way. We can’t keep on paying this subsidy.”
Amtrak’s food costs were also found to be inefficient for the company. Amtrak charges $2 for a soft drink, but when labor is included costs the taxpayers $3.50, the New York Times found. The $9.50 hamburger costs taxpayers $16 once labor costs are added, the report said.