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National Association of Railroad Passengers Spring Council Meeting Emphasizes Need for "A Connected America"

April 27, 2015

Release #15-08

National Association of Railroad Passengers Spring Council Meeting Emphasizes Need for “A Connected America”

For Immediate Release (#15-08) Contact: Ms. Benet J. Wilson
April 27, 2015 443-838-7033

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Volunteers representing some 28,000 members nationwide of the National Association of Railroad Passengers visited more 200 congressional offices Tuesday during NARP’s annual Day on the Hill, pressing Congress to support and improve the multi-year rail authorization legislation currently taking shape in the Senate.

These members are ordinary train riders who paid their own way to Washington to attend NARP’s Spring Council Meeting and to sit down with their legislators to advocate for what NARP calls “A Connected America.”

A Connected America invests in links between intercity trains and airports, intercity buses, local transit, cycling and walking, and car rental and sharing service to create a seamless 21st Century multi-modal transportation network, coast-to-coast – connecting “flyover country” to the nation’s larger economy and prospects.

The day before Day on the Hill, the volunteers heard presentations from the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak and the Environmental Law Policy Center as part of NARP’s annual Spring Council Meeting in Washington, D.C.

Paul Nissenbaum, associate administrator for railroad policy and development for the Federal Rail Administration, outlined details in the administration’s Grow America Act, a $478 billion, six-year transportation reauthorization proposal that provides increased and stable funding for highways, bridges, transit and rail systems. “Rail hasn’t had a reliable stream of funding. With Amtrak not knowing what its funding is until a few months into the budget year, that’s no way to run a major transportation company,” he said. “The key message is that it needs steady, reliable funding.”

As the Passenger Rail Reform and Investment Act bill goes to the Senate, this is a critical point on the legislative timeline, said Joe McHugh, Amtrak’s senior vice president for government affairs and corporate communications. “The House of Representatives passed a bill back in March, and that bill reinforced the national system of Amtrak,” he said. “Ridership numbers have risen steadily between 1972 and 2014, and federal subsidies are down to the lowest numbers they’ve ever been. These continued gains help build support.”

Karen Torrent of the Environmental Law Policy Center applauded the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to vacate a lower court ruling, thus reinstating metrics and standards for Amtrak service designed to protect the rights of rail passengers. But Torrent warned that the battle was not over. “The parties could go back and fight the issues again. But Congress can fix all of the issues under the PRRIA bill” under consideration, she said.

About the National Association of Railroad Passengers

NARP is the only national organization speaking for the users of passenger trains and rail transit. We have worked since 1967 to expand the quality and quantity of passenger rail in the U.S. Our mission is to work towards a modern, customer-focused national passenger train network that provides a travel choice Americans want. Our work is supported by more than 28,000 individual members nationwide.