House Appropriations Committee Passes $10 Billion for Amtrak
July 15, 2020
The House Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2021 Transportation bill last night by a vote of 30 to 22. The legislation would provide $10 billion for Amtrak in FY21—$2 billion through the standard budgeting process, with another $3 billion for the National Network and $5 billion for the Northeast Corridor as part of economic stimulus title. The bill also explicitly prohibits Amtrak from reducing service frequencies.
“Since Amtrak released its service change proposals in its FY2021 supplemental request, our Association been clear that while we strongly support emergency funds for Amtrak, any additional funds need to buy certainty for workers and passengers alike and daily train service must be the very minimum service level,” said Rail Passengers President Jim Mathews in a letter to appropriators. “We are grateful that your bill takes into consideration the well-being of all 500 Amtrak-served communities—including many small towns with few transportation alternatives—recognizing the critical role passenger rail and public transit have always played in economic resilience.”
Appropriators emphasized that stimulus title, which includes $26 billion in transportation funding to help the U.S. economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic, is about putting Americans back to work while preserving essential systems in the face of cratering ridership and lost tax revenue.
“The emergency funding in this bill is pivotal to kickstart a strong and equitable recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic collapse,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, who is retiring at the end of this year. “After an unprecedented year of challenges, the investments in this bill lay the foundations for sustained economic growth and expanded opportunity for every American in every corner of our nation.”
Additionally, the committee approved by voice vote an amendment by Chairman Price requiring the use of masks by passenger and employees on airlines, Amtrak, and in large transit agencies, as well as enhanced sanitation measures.
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.