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Letters to the Editor: Amtrak and the USPS lose money. They’re still immensely valuable

An Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train rides along the coast with the surf and sand in the background.
An Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train heads south toward San Diego.
(K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

To the editor: The metrics by which we’ve determined the value of rail transportation in this country have been way off, and we’ll lose out if we only look to profit and loss as a measure of its success. (“Saving passenger trains could be a small, but real, bipartisan step,” Opinion, Jan. 28)

Another example highlighted by columnist LZ Granderson is the U.S. Postal Service. Before the final year of the Trump administration, the USPS was one of the most trusted institutions in this country. We’re not in a position to undervalue that these days.

The postal service is a communications lifeline when the cost of other carriers is prohibitive and the internet is inaccessible. It’s an actual lifeline when the daily visit from a letter carrier is the only regular in-person contact that many elderly and isolated Americans can count on.

It’s time to restart serious planning about the ways post offices might also close the gap between banked and unbanked Americans.

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Our national rail system also has great value even if it does not turn a profit, as do many other publicly funded institutions. Libraries, public broadcasting and the Smithsonian could all run deficits forever, but if they connect, educate and help ensure access in an unequal society and instill faith in our government, then they’re all worth it.

KJ Ward, Hollywood

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To the editor: What a thoughtful piece by Granderson. Connecting cooking heritage with maintaining the train system so hit home. His chitterlings from his Aunt Minerva equated with my mom’s Boston baked beans (with sausage and brown raisin bread if we were lucky).

Two year ago my sister and I were able to use Amtrak to travel from Los Angeles to Oakland, Chicago, Boston, Washington and Santa Fe, N.M. I have been across the country before, but not like that.

The train not only allows you to see the country in a most amazing way, but also to talk to people you would never have the opportunity to meet on a jet or in your car.

Mary Kate Manion, Los Angeles


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