Amtrak officials announced yesterday that “Amtrak trains carried more than 30 million passengers in the past 12 months, the most in one year since the passenger railroad was created four decades ago.” Ridership is up 5 percent over a year ago, and ticket revenue is up 8 percent.
“Amtrak is fulfilling its national mission and is part of the solution to meet America’s growing transportation and energy needs,” said Joseph Boardman, Amtrak’s CEO. However, Republicans in Congress are ready to take Amtrak out at the knees:
A House appropriations subcommittee passed a bill [in September] that provides Amtrak with $227 million for operations in 2012, down from $563 million in each of the past two years. Amtrak also would get $899 million for capital expenditures, down $25 million.
In addition to this 60 percent cut, the bill “would prohibit using Amtrak’s federal funding to operate state-supported train service.” Earlier this year, House Transportation Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) “proposed soliciting bids from other railroads for the right to service the 456-mile Northeast Corridor, which is the heart of Amtrak’s operations.”
“Americans are returning to the rails in record numbers, yet Republicans are pulling out all of the stops in their rush to auction off Amtrak’s assets to the highest bidder on Wall Street,” said Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV). The National Association of Railroad Passengers has warned that the GOP’s cuts “would be tantamount to shutting down the entire Amtrak network, because the remaining routes could not cover the system’s overhead costs.”