Philadelphia PA- After the U.S. House of Representatives moved to cut Amtrak funding by $230 million, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) called for an increase in funding to $1.4 billion in the coming fiscal year as the budget process enters its critical final months. At 30th Street Station, Casey was joined by a key stakeholder to push for additional investment in Amtrak that will be used to upgrade infrastructure and increase safety. As Philadelphia prepares for major events, infrastructure investments will be essential. In his push for funding, Casey released a new letter that discusses the impact Amtrak has, particularly on the Northeast Corridor, which serves 11 million passengers every year and has a significant economic impact on the region.
“The Senate Appropriations Committee funding level of $1.4 billion for Amtrak will allow Amtrak to continue to improve existing rail infrastructure and implement key safety programs like Positive Train Control,” Senator Casey said. “Investing in Amtrak is critical to the long term competiveness of Pennsylvania. Simply stated, we need to increase the transportation options available to commuters and strengthen the connectivity of the various modes of transportation. Rail transportation is an important part of our transportation puzzle.”
Amtrak has been a target for cuts as House Republicans have continually looked for ways to reduce funding for Amtrak. The House Appropriations Committee funding level that was passed on May 27th would be nearly $300 million less than Amtrak received last year. The Senate Appropriations Committee funding level of $1.4 billion is the level that Amtrak received last year and would help improve the existing rail infrastructure along with taking steps to accommodate increased ridership. The Senate Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bill also provides $50 million for rail safety grants to support the implementation of PTC and other rail safety programs.
Attached you can find Amtrak funding for fiscal years 2003 through 2014.
The full text of Casey’s letter can be seen below:
Dear Chairman, Vice Chairwoman, Chairwoman and Ranking Member:
I write to convey my support for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development’s funding level of $1.4 billion for Amtrak for Fiscal Year 2016. Increased passenger rail options provide commuters with relief from fuel expenses, decrease congestion on our nation’s highways and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Each year, Amtrak has been consistently exceeding ridership records and growing its customer base. This investment will provide funding to maintain and improve infrastructure to continue these gains. In addition, this funding level would ensure we make the investments needed to not only improve and grow our current rail infrastructure, but also enhance safety programs, like Positive Train Control, that would reduce train incidents and save lives.
I also wish to express my concern with the cuts in the House Appropriations Committee’s Fiscal Year 2016 funding level of $1.1 billion. This reduction in Amtrak’s budget would hinder infrastructure improvements on the Northeast corridor (NEC), which serves over 11 million passengers per year, and the Keystone Corridor, which serves over 1.4 million passengers a year. Amtrak rail service along these corridors is essential to the long-term economic competitiveness of the region and provides travelers with a reliable mode of transportation. The recovery of our nation’s economy relies on the continued support of passenger rail. In Pennsylvania alone, Amtrak employs over 2,700 individuals and spends over $230 million a year on procurement contracts in the state. The House Appropriations bill funding level would threaten these jobs and harm the regional economy.
Again, I am pleased at your decision to include significant funding for Amtrak in order to support the growing demand for passenger rail service and to implement necessary safety technologies. Thank you and the other members of the Subcommittee for your work on the Fiscal Year 2016 Appropriation Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.
Robert P. Casey, Jr.
United States Senator