House Budget Would End Amtrak

The recent 2014 budget approved by the House subcommittee on Appropriations, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development would put an end to Amtrak. The measure would provide $7.7 billion, or about 15 percent, less than the fiscal 2013 level. It would provide $13.9 billion less than the president’s request.

The Federal Railroad Administration would be cut 40 percent by $468 million to $1.16 billion, and the measure includes policy changes for Amtrak that would limit overtime for the railroad’s employees and bar federal funding for routes where Amtrak offers discounts of 50 percent or more off normal peak fares.

Amtrak President and Chief Executive Joseph H. Boardman told reporters that the House’s proposal could result in slowdowns everywhere, even on the Northeast Corridor, the railroad’s most profitable operation, because it would cut into already budgeted items such as new equipment and repairs.

“This wasn’t thought through at all,” Boardman said. “It doesn’t pay for any of the equipment that’s on order, and we fall further behind on the Northeast Corridor.”

He said equipment has been pulled out of service more often in recent months, as it has aged faster than Amtrak can repair or replace it. Boardman said, “That could result in more delays and reduce ridership, especially on the lines carrying business travelers.”

“This is what the Republicans would do if in control of both houses and the White House,” said TCU President Bob Scardelletti. “TCU will continue to fight for our members’ jobs and benefits. Every member should know what the House budget would do and prepare to do everything possible to keep it from happening.”

The White House Budget Office said it would recommend that President Obama veto the house bill “and any other legislation that implements the House Republican Budget framework.”

The National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) released a statement opposing the proposed House Budget.

The house version of the bill would cut:

  • FAA Facilities and Equipment – $2.155 billion, 17 percent below the FY13 post-sequester level.
  • Amtrak Operations – $350 million, 21 percent below FY13 post-sequester level.
  • Amtrak Capital and Debt Service – $600 million, 34 percent below FY13 post-sequester level.
  • TIGER grants are not only zeroed out in FY 2014 by the House bill, but $237 million in previously appropriated FY 2013 TIGER funding that is not yet obligated would be canceled.
  • The House bill does not include the $50 billion in infrastructure stimulus spending proposed as new mandatory spending by the President.
  • The House bill rejects the President’s proposal to get around the discretionary spending cap by switching Amtrak spending from discretionary to mandatory, and it also rejects the President’s proposal to fund a $3.7 billion next-generation high-speed rail program.

Click here to read a copy of the proposed bill.

Click here to read the release from NARP.

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