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Why Fund Amtrak?


Loss of Amtrak trains would harm peoples' mobility.
Many smaller communities served by Amtrak are poorly served by other forms of public transportation - or not served at all. Air travel to smaller places is expensive, and bus lines are disappearing. Many types of people - elderly, disabled, students, those with medical conditions who cannot fly - need trains as a travel option.

Federal investment in Amtrak has fallen, but investment in highways and aviation has grown.
Considering inflation, from 1982 to 1991, aviation spending is up 97%, highways up 25%, Amtrak down 36%. No mode of transportation can do without federal support. Had other federal government expenditures been reduced correspondingly, there would be no federal budget deficit.

Travel on Amtrak rose during nine straight years.
In 1991, Amtrak accounted for 6.3 billion passenger-miles, up from 4.2 billion in 1982. After dropping to 6.1 billion in 1992, Amtrak bounced back to 6.2 billion in 1993. Problems directly related to funding reductions have restrained further growth.

Use of Amtrak is greater than use of the pre-Amtrak rail system.
Amtrak's passenger-miles in 1993 were 24% above the 5.0 billion intercity passenger-miles handled by private railroads in 1970 - when there were twice as many trains on a much larger route structure.

Amtrak's coverage of operating costs from commercial revenues has risen.
In 1983, Amtrak covered just 54% of its operating costs, but was up to 79% in 1991.

Amtrak is energy-efficient.
Amtrak consumes just 54% of the energy per-passenger-mile that domestic airlines consume (according to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Transportation Energy Data Book: Edition 13.) Amtrak's energy efficiency has improved over time, and will improve even more as corridor speeds rise and as new equipment arrives. Rail is the most energy-efficient mode capable of attracting people from cars and airplanes.

Amtrak is good for the environment.
Trains create less polution because they use less energy. The same is true for work to improve tracks. Since most rail rights-of-way are underutilized, improving them costs less and has far less environmental impact than a new airport or highway, and can be done with much less disruption. One rail line can carry the equivalent of 16 highway lanes.

Amtrak is safe.
On a per-mile basis, motorists are eight times more likely to be killed than Amtrak passengers.

Amtrak workers and contractors pay taxes.
Amtrak employs nearly 25,000 people. Tens of thousands of car builders and supply workers depend on their employers' Amtrak contracts. The taxes on their salaries and on sales of supplies to Amtrak exceed Amtrak's Congressional funding.

Letter on The Record!
ŠThe Record 2007

Congress and the Bush administration have made Amtrak a whipping boy when it comes to funding. For fiscal year 2006, the $1.293 billion in Amtrak funding passed by the U.S. Senate was cut nearly 14 percent to $1.14 billion by the House.
With appropriations bills delayed, Congress will most likely pass a Continuing Resolution to ensure government agencies receive enough funding to continue to operate through fiscal year 2007, and this means Amtrak would get the same $1.14 billion.
According to our state's senior senator, Charles Schumer, this would hamper the progress of Amtrak's ongoing capital programs and could lead to some employee reductions. Those of us who live in the Northeast Corridor realize the value Amtrak provides in moving passengers from Montreal to Washington and to everywhere in between.
Our Albany-Rensselaer station ranks in the top 15 busiest passenger stations in the country, and there are 500 Amtrak employees working out of Rensselaer. Amtrak needs not only to survive, but to grow, and that means adequate funding.
To its credit, the management team at Amtrak has addressed many of the criticisms raised about the rail service operates.
It makes no sense that the government will throw money at every airline that runs into financial difficulty, but is tight-fisted when it comes to subsidizing rail passenger service for the nation.
This cavalier attitude toward passenger rail service is just one more reason why Europe and Japan are head and shoulders ahead of our country when it comes to moving great numbers of people swiftly and inexpensively.
We agree with Senator Schumer that it is time to stop playing games with Amtrak and instead put it on a path to growth.



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