Senate Approves Transportation Funding Bill

On November 1 the U.S. Senate voted to approve a “minibus” bill that combined transportation, housing, and other spending bills. The minibus bill included $1.48 billion for Amtrak and $100million for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (HSIPR) in the fiscal year 2012. These funding levels are significantly higher than the House version that passed recently.

The bill now goes to conference committee, where the Senate and House must reconcile the different funding levels.

A statement released from the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) stated, “We believe the House subcommittee’s draconian operating-grant reduction to $227 million would force an Amtrak shutdown.  Equally unacceptable is the House subcommittee’s provision to prohibit the use of Amtrak’s operating funds on short-distance routes.  This could eliminate almost 150 weekday trains and strand more than nine million passengers each year, harming the towns and cities those trains connect.  It also would undercut negotiations between Amtrak and the states regarding the increased state payments required underPRIIA by October 16, 2013.  Finally, the elimination of those trains would result in shifting of significant shared costs to the surviving Northeast Corridor and long-distance trains, underlining our concern that a $227 million operating grant would force a system shutdown.”

Click here to read the full release from NARP.