In an article written for the DC Streets Blog, senators and Amtrak officials made the case that the way to make Amtrak work more effectively is to improve the funding available to Amtrak and not privatization.
“Last year we spent more than $40 billion on highways, and Lord knows we need that — but that’s more than we spent on Amtrak in its entire 40-year history,” New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg said at the start of a hearing on the future of passenger rail. “And unfortunately, some say we can’t afford vital public investments like these right now. And I say we can’t afford not to make these investments.”
The longtime rail champion took the opportunity to slam the House Republicanplan to privatize the Northeast Corridor, and Amtrak CEO Joseph Boardman agreed that it would be disastrous. Boardman said privatization ran a huge risk of compromising safety and the environment.
More significantly, the Republican proposal is based on the assertion that Amtrak doesn’t do a good enough job of managing its own assets, and that a private company would be better suited to do so. But an audit of Amtrak shows greatprogress, testified Amtrak’s inspector general, Ted Alves.
“Ridership and revenue have grown steadily, and this year the company expects to exceed 30 million passengers for the first time,” Alves said. “Amtrak is also focused on improving management practices and financial performance and is finalizing a new strategic plan.”
“I have always maintained that in order to have a world class high speed rail system in the U.S. we need to provide Amtrak with a long-term dedicated funding source,” said TCU President Bob Scardelletti.
Click here to read the DC Streets Blog article.
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