|Arkansas||Pryor (D.)||Lincoln (D.)|
|Connecticut||Lieberman (D.)||Dodd (D.)|
|California||Boxer (D.)||Feinstein (D.)|
|Delaware||Biden (D.)||Carper (D.)|
|Illinois||Durbin (D.)||Fitzgerald (R.)|
|Louisiana||Breaux (D.)||Landrieu (D.)|
|Maine||Collins (R.)||Snowe (R.)|
|Maryland||Mikulski (D.)||Sarbanes (D.)|
|Massachusetts||Kennedy (D.)||Kerry (D.)|
|Michigan||Levin (D.)||Stabenow (D.)|
|Minnesota||Dayton (D.)||Coleman (R.)|
|Montana||Baucus (D.)||Burns (R.)|
|Nebraska||Ben Nelson (D.)|
|New Jersey||Corzine (D.)||Lautenburg (D.)|
|New Mexico||Bingaman (D.)|
|New York||Clinton (D.)||Schumer (D.)|
|North Carolina||Edwards (D.)|
|North Dakota||Conrad (D.)||Dorgan (D.)|
|Pennsylvania||Specter (R.*)||Santorum (R.)|
|Rhode Island||Chafee (R.)||Reed (D.)|
|South Carolina||Hollings (D.*)|
|South Dakota||Daschle (D.)||Johnson (D.)|
|Vermont||Jeffords (I.)||Leahy (D.)|
|West Virginia||Rockefeller (D.)|
|Wisconsin||Kohl (D.)||Feingold (D.)|
* = co-author of letter
We are writing to express our support for full funding for Amtrak in the FY05 Transportation, Treasury and General Government Appropriations bill.
In its FY05 Legislative and Grant request, Amtrak requested $1.798 billion for FY05. In FY04, Congress appropriated $1.218 billion for Amtrak, following an Amtrak FY04 request of $1.8 billion. Although Amtrak received almost $600 million less than what was required to return the rail system to a state of good repair, the Corporation has been able to survive at this federal funding level and ramp up its capital program because of a unique set of circumstances and careful management. In particular, one-time savings achieved through tighter operational controls and reduced headcount have helped cut expenses, leading to the first year since 1995 in which Amtrak did not require outside borrowing from a credit facility or a supplemental federal appropriation to maintain its operations. Additionally, the FY04 appropriations bill allowed Amtrak to defer repayment of the $100 million loan it owes to the U.S. Department of Transportation, thereby reducing Amtrak’s expenses.
In the past two years, Amtrak's financial picture has been one of steady improvement. Amtrak has refocused its efforts on its core business - intercity passenger rail. Ridership is at record levels. For the first six months of FY04, ridership is on track to beat last year's record of 24 million and core operating expenses decreased by $20 million. Amtrak's CEO, David Gunn, has set forth an aggressive and much needed five-year capital plan that will restore the railroad's existing plant and equipment to a state-of-good-repair. The timing of this critically needed investment in plant and equipment may be fortuitous given the rapidly escalating costs of fuel and the ongoing problems we face with congestion. It is therefore particularly important that we provide the traveling public with viable transportation alternatives such as Amtrak.
Given Mr. Gunn's proven track record of controlling expenses and improving the company's operations, we support Amtrak's FY05 funding request. Under the President’s FY05 Budget request, the Administration requested only $900 million in funding for Amtrak. This level of funding would guarantee an end to the system-wide capital improvements now being undertaken by Amtrak and result in a shutdown of Amtrak’s operations. Similarly, amounts less than the $1.798 billion level will impede the urgent repair and upgrade of Amtrak’s capital assets, which will have significant negative impacts on the railroad’s operational efficiency, on-time performance, revenues, costs and ridership.
We therefore urge you to fully fund Amtrak's FY05 request of $1.798 billion.