and right now Amtrak is not very motivated to improve its' overall service.
This is probably the most ridiculous statement you've made to date in this topic. Sorry!
Amtrak is very motivated to improve things. Amtrak has dozens of reports on it's website and in the hands of Congress detailing things that it would like to do so as to improve service. But those things take money. Money that so far Congress isn't willing to part with. Heck, right now thanks to Congress, even if Amtrak could find the equipment to start a new route to improve service, it can't! Congress won't allow it! Much less help to fund it knowing that the more trains that Amtrak can run, the more interconnected the system becomes and the greater the ridership becomes. Greater ridership means more revenue and less subsidy.
Yet Congress is happy to throw away money on many far more wasteful things, like the bridge to nowhere or a statue of Andrew Jackson in a city in the south, don't recall what city right now.
However returning to our central theme, we drivers only manage to cover 51% of the costs of our highways. If we back out the monies that go to public transit and other questionable items that Congress spends the fuel taxes on, we get to 65% covered by fuel taxes and other direct fees.
As of 2011, Amtrak covered 69% of its budget without help from the Fed. If we toss in the state subsidies, then Amtrak is probably hovering around that same 65% mark that drivers manage to cover. The only difference is that Amtrak's budget is only around $4 Billion, while the combined state & Federal spending on highways is in the $200 Billion range, meaning that in terms of total dollars, what gets spent in subsidies on drivers is huge compared to Amtrak.
Here's another way to look at it. According to the Taxpayer's REceipt for 2009, a married couple with 2 kids & $80K paid $3.83 via their Federal incomes taxes to Amtrak. That same couple paid $110.06 towards the highways. That's on top of what they paid via fuel taxes, states taxes, sales taxes and so on.
A retired couple with $100K in income paid $3.11 towards Amtrak, something that they might well use. They paid $89.38 towards the highways, even if they can no longer drive a car, much less own one.
Cutting Amtrak isn't going to do much to your tax bill, and any savings would quickly be gobbled up by the need to build more highways and add lanes to the existing ones.
Sure, it sounds terrible when John Stossel throws around wild numbers like he did in his report on the Sunset Limited. But killing Amtrak is only going to save about $4 in taxes, which again will just end up in the roads anyhow. Killing the Sunset Limited is likely to drop that $3.83 to about $3.82 for the first couple and $3.11 to $3.10 for the second.