Train Wars: The Passengers Strike Back
June 12, 2014
Written By Sean Jeans Gail
As you probably read in NARP's blog post yesterday, the House attached several anti-passenger train amendments onto the House transportation funding bill at the last second. NARP needs your help to let the House know America’s passengers are paying attention. We’re also asking you to help us turn back these awful amendments in the Senate.
The amendments in question would cut the lowest-performing long distance route—the Sunset Limited—and eliminate food and beverage on long distance trains. Certain members of Congress just don’t get it: you can’t cut your way to a functioning transportation system. It’s not working for roads, it’s not working for air travel, and it’s not working for trains.
[Bonus for NARP Dues-Paying Members: See the voting charts here]
Trains are in an especially precarious position: after decades of underinvestment the system is already so skeletal that further reductions will make it unworkable. As we know from the past: the savings from cutting a train from the network are overwhelmed by overhead costs spread across a fewer number of passengers. If Congress kills the Sunset, there will be an immediate effect on the network; the Texas Eagle will bring in less revenue with the loss of the through-cars to Los Angeles, and the Crescent and City of New Orleans will see their revenues fall through the loss of connecting passengers, and their costs rise when they become the sole occupants of the New Orleans terminal. If food is cut, there’s no telling how many Amtrak customers will be scared away. The House is trying hard to make Amtrak less efficient with these cuts.
Keep in mind, the House is spending precious time running Amtrak through the wringer for millions while they work to find $100 BILLION with which to subsidize the Highway Trust Fund, which is set to go bankrupt in August.
NARP needs your help! There are two steps America’s passengers must take to undo this damage:
- Let the House know that you’re paying attention, and you’re angry that these Amtrak-killing provisions were passed. (Better still, call your Representative today)
- The Senate is taking up the transportation spending bill next week. Click here to ask them to turn back any anti-train amendments (or better still, call your Senators)
Together, train passengers can build a truly world-class passenger rail system to keep America moving!
"The National Association of Railroad Passengers has done yeoman work over the years and in fact if it weren’t for NARP, I'd be surprised if Amtrak were still in possession of as a large a network as they have. So they've done good work, they're very good on the factual case."
Robert Gallamore, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University and former Federal Railroad Administration official, Director of Transportation Center at Northwestern University
November 17, 2005, on The Leonard Lopate Show (with guest host Chris Bannon), WNYC New York.