Casey: House Plan to Gut Amtrak Budget By 1/3 Will Hurt PA Jobs, Economy

With House Plan Moving Forward, Casey Pushes for Adequate Funding Levels As Ridership Increases

Amtrak Adds $200M to PA Economy Each Year, Employs 2,600 in Commonwealth

Fate of Amtrak Funds Could Be Decided This Summer

Philadelphia PA- Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) pushed for adequate funding levels for Amtrak as a House plan to gut funding by 1/3 is moving forward. Amtrak adds $200 million to Pennsylvania’s economy every year and employs 2,600 residents across the Commonwealth, yet the U.S. House of Representatives is moving forward with a plan that would cut Amtrak’s budget by $350 million even as ridership increases. With the fate of these funding cuts possibly decided in the coming months, Casey released a letter to Senate appropriators supporting appropriate funding levels.

“Slashing Amtrak’s funding by one third at a time of increasing ridership will hurt Pennsylvania’s economy and reduce service along the Northeast Corridor,” Senator Casey said. “Amtrak adds a $200 million boost to our state’s economy every year and employs over 2,000 people. It is imperative that we make smart decisions about the budget that won't stunt job creation or harm the economy.”

The House Appropriations Committee funding level that was passed on June 27th would be a third less than Amtrak received last year.  Joe Boardman, Amtrak’s Chairman, has said if the funding level passed by the House Appropriations Committee became law then service on the Northeast Corridor would be reduced and other routes may be in jeopardy.  The Senate Appropriations Committee funding level of $1.45 billion is $137 million more than Amtrak received last year and would help improve the existing rail infrastructure along with taking steps to accommodate increased ridership

Amtrak funding over the past few fiscal years are listed below:

  • FY 2012 enacted                                $1.418 billion                         
  • FY 2013 enacted                                $1.3 billion
  • House version 2014                           $950 million
  • Senate version 2014                         $1.45 billion

The full text of Casey’s letter can be seen below:

The Honorable Barbara Mikulski                            The Honorable Richard Shelby  

Chairwoman                                                                 Vice Chairman

Senate Committee on Appropriations                     Senate Committee on Appropriations

United States Senate                                                   United States Senate                    

Washington, D.C. 20510                                             Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Patty Murray                                      The Honorable Susan Collins

Chairwoman                                                                    Ranking Member

Subcommittee on Transportation,                             Subcommittee on Transportation,
Housing and Urban Development,                             Housing and Urban Development,

and Related Agencies                                                     and Related Agencies

Washington, D.C. 20510                                                Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Chairwomen, Vice Chairman, and Ranking Member:

I write to convey my support for the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development’s funding level of $1.45 billion for Amtrak for Fiscal Year 2014.  Amtrak has been breaking ridership records annually and building its customer base.  This investment will provide funding to maintain and improve infrastructure to continue these gains.  In addition, this funding level would make sure we make the necessary investment to grow our current rail infrastructure to accommodate future growth.  Increased passenger rail options provide commuters with relief from rising gas prices and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. 

I also wish to express my concern with the drastic cuts in the House Appropriations Committee’s funding level of $950 million.  This would reduce Amtrak’s budget by nearly a third and endanger service 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 the corridor is crucial to the long-term economic competitiveness of the region and provides travelers with a reliable mode of transportation to their final destinations.  Continued support of passenger rail is essential to furthering our nation’s economic recovery.  In Pennsylvania alone, Amtrak employs over 2,600 individuals and spends over $200 million a year on procurement contracts in the state.  The House Appropriations bill funding level would endanger these jobs and harm the regional economy.

I am pleased at your decision to include robust funding for Amtrak in order to support the growing demand for passenger rail service and to protect jobs.  Thank you and the other members of the Subcommittee for your work on the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriation Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill. 

Sincerely,

Robert P. Casey, Jr.

United States Senator

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