House to vote on anti-passenger rail amendments today!

June 27, 201

Last chance to speak up for trains!

Votes on amendments to the transportation/housing appropriations bill could come as early as today at 4:00 PM Eastern. In an unusual move, the House is operating under an “open rule,” which makes it very hard to know for sure what amendments will be offered.  However, NARP has identified two distinct possibilities passengers should should be concerned about:

Elimination of $500 million from Amtrak capital—As reported in yesterday's email, it appears there will be an amendment that would eliminate a $500 million bridge and tunnel grant within the Amtrak capital program.  That money is vital—not only for capital, but for the potential to flex $80 million of it over to Amtrak operations.

Rep. Jeff Flake Targets Amtrak's Food Service—NARP just learned this morning about a “no-money-for-food-service” amendment from Representative Flake (R-AZ).

This issue was already address by Amtrak’s Bill Crosbie in his June 9, 2005, prepared testimony before the Railroads Subcommittee: “Amtrak’s food and beverage service is a fundamental part of the service that we offer on the majority of the trains that we operate on a daily basis. Its primary purpose is to enhance ticket sales and ridership, not serve as a profit center.”  Translation: it's hard to make money on food when your clientele is limited to people on a single train, but no food service would mean huge loss in ridership.

With so little time left, it's important that they hear from America's passengers.  So call your Representative now, and tell them to "vote against amendments that would reduce Amtrak funding or limit its ability to provide food service" (if a the staff person is not available to speak to you, please leave a concise message, since the vote likely will come before your call is returned).

Senate and House negotiators close to deal on surface transportation bill

It appears that a deal has been reached between House and Senate conferees on a multi-year transportation reauthorization.  While details are still fuzzy, if the rail provisions are anything like what was contained in the Senate version, this is good news for trains.  An extended authorization will clear the way for investment in transportation infrastructure, putting Americans back to work in time for the summer construction season.

NARP will keep you updated as events unfold.