As the story goes, told by David Luberoff in Governing magazine in 1996, when it started, no one thought Amtrak was long for this world. President Nixon's economic advisors believed the financials of a new national railroad system would never work. His political advisors, on the other hand, figured the railroad could score some points with the American public and "wouldn't die until after Nixon left office":
Time had the last laugh on that one: Nixon's political career soon came crashing to an end, and Amtrak is still chugging along in 2015. Today America's passenger rail provider does still receive help from the federal government, but it also now recovers 93 percent of its operating costs through fares, and lately the service has broken ridership records year after year.