Happening Now

Rail Passengers Ride the Minibus

July 25, 2018

Your Rail Passengers Association Staff Reports from the Senate Floor

If you’re one of the passengers that reached out to their elected official in the past year, it’s clear you’re being heard. The transportation funding bill is currently on the floor, and Senators have filed amendments that directly address the importance of keeping Amtrak’s national footprint intact and on-time performance.

So far, 122 amendments have been filed to H.R.6147, the vehicle the Senate is using for the FY 2019 transportation funding bill. Out of the 122 amendments, several deal with passenger trains. Unlike in past years, none of them are attacks on the passenger rail system, a sign that our advocacy has shifted the battleground in our favor!

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) was joined by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Michael Bennett (D-CO), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) to file S.Amendment #3414, which states:

"It is the sense of Congress that 1) long-distance passenger rail routes provide much-need transportation access for 4,700,000 riders in 325 communities in 40 States and are particularly important in rural areas; and 2) long-distance passenger rail routes and services should be sustained to ensure connectivity throughout the National Network"

With advocates fighting efforts to fragment the National Network, this amendment--which passed 95-4--will provide a clear sense of the Congressional mandate Amtrak is operating under.

The Senate passed Senator Dick Durbin’s (D-IL) S.Amendment #3422 by a vote of 99-0, which requires that the Amtrak Inspector General update a report entitled "Effects of Amtrak's Poor On-Time Performance" and make it available to the public. Given the delays plaguing Amtrak passengers, this should provide valuable tools to capture the extent of the problem.

The Minibus is scheduled to be on the Senate floor through tomorrow, and your Rail Passengers staff is continuing to press hard to pass amendments that will protect the Southwest Chief and improve service across the U.S. So far, we’re happy to report that the developments are positive.