Happening Now

House Passes Amtrak Relief; Nothing Yet From Senate

July 31, 2020

The U.S. House of Representatives today passed a Fiscal Year 2021 budget "mini-bus" that includes $10 billion for Amtrak and $24 billion for transit. The seven-bill package also includes language that protects daily service, prevents further furloughs for Amtrak workers, and requires that passengers and employees wear masks on trains, planes, and large transit systems.

The House passed H.R. 7617—which in addition to the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Act, includes Defense, Commerce, Justice, Science, Energy and Water Development, Financial Services and General Government, Homeland Security, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education—by a vote of 217 to 197. The bill, if enacted into law, would avert the crisis facing rail systems across the U.S.


House FY21 THUD Funding Levels ($M)

Rail - FY21

Amtrak - National Network


Amtrak - Northeast Corridor


Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements


Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair


Magnetic Levitation Technology Deployment Program


Rail Subtotal


Transit - FY21

Formula Grants


Capital Investment Grants


Transit Infrastructure Grants


Transit Subtotal


BUILD Grants - FY21


Economic Recovery Funds - Rail and Transit

Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements


Magnetic Levitation Technology Deployment Program


Amtrak - National Network


Amtrak - Northeast Corridor


FTA Capital Investment Grants


BUILD Grants


Economic Recovery Funds – Rail + Transit Subtotal


However, with the Senate dragging its heels on passing any meaningful legislation, that enactment is far from certain. The Senate has yet to introduce even draft appropriations language for transportation, and the most recent coronavirus relief package included no money for transit or Amtrak (although it did include $10 billion for airports).

Major transit operators, struggling to keep their systems afloat in the face of collapsed ridership and tax revenue, objected to the lack of relief funds and called the bill “shameful.”

“If the federal government fails to act, this pandemic will end up on the backs of riders and stymie not just New York’s economic rebound, but the nation’s as well,” wrote MTA’s Chairman and CEO Pat Foye in a statement released Tuesday. “…This backwards bill will only further devastate our country and economy with no dedicated funding for mass transit—the circulatory system of the nation—and no new support for state and local governments.”

It is important for Americans to think clearly about what the Senate’s failure to act would mean for our intercity rail network: not just 3x service for long-distance trains, but the collapse of the entire intercity network. Amtrak served communities will be threatened with the elimination of all State-supported and long-distance rail corridors, and frequencies along the Northeast Corridor would be reduced to a fraction of present-day service, with critical infrastructure upgrades put on hold indefinitely.

We can’t let this happen! Please let your Senators know you demand relief for America’s trains!

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