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Amtrak's $16 Burger

You can get $16 hamburgers at fancy restaurants, but it takes Big Government's Amtrak to sell hamburgers that cost that much AND incur a loss of $834 million over the past 10 years.

The secret? Amtrak sells microwaved burgers for $9.50, but pays out over $16 in food cost and labor:

Amtrak spent $1.70 for every dollar it earned on food and beverage sales last year, leading to a loss of $84.5 million on the service, according to information provided to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee this week.

Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) blasted the “inefficient and wasteful” record of the nation’s rail line, pointing out the substantial cost to taxpayers occurring with each transaction.

“Over the last 10 years, these losses have amounted to a staggering $833.8 million,” said Mica. “It costs passengers $9.50 to buy a cheeseburger on Amtrak, but the cost to taxpayers is $16.15. Riders pay $2 for a Pepsi, but each of these sodas costs the U.S. Treasury $3.40.”

Link

Update 8/10/12: The story at NY Times | GAO Report (2005) | Amtrak's own report (2011)