Tool et al,
Federal and state gas taxes do not cover the maintenance costs of roadways, let alone expansion of them. Roads are heavily subsidized. Same with air travel. Think the charge added to the tickets for maintenance of the air traffic control system covers the cost?
I keep wishing that a member of Congress would have the 'nads to propose that all forms of transportation become self sufficient, not just rail. Think that will ever happen? Never, Why? Everyone would scream about the cost. Too many people use it to want to pay their own way. Since the subsidy is so hard to see, everyone can easily overlook it and say it doesn't exist.
The problem of global warming and the ever increasing cost of gasoline my help quiet the complaints against rail subsidies but as others have pointed out, no rail system in the world covers its cost of operation. It’s a public good so it needs to be funded.