Rather than give it billions of dollars to restore or build infrastructure that it can’t afford to maintain, Congress should simply agree to pay Amtrak a given amount for every passenger mile it carries. This will give Amtrak an incentive to focus on passengers, not politics.
If Congress wants to continue subsidizing transit agencies, it should distribute the money using a formula that takes transit fares heavily into account. This will encourage transit agencies to put riders first and to emphasize programs that increase ridership rather than ones that increase costs.
Although the Trump plan would allow states to spend their share of new infrastructure funds on maintenance, it leaves the decision in the hands of local politicians. They will almost always go for the glitz rather than the routine.