U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and U.S. Rep. Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced legislation in both houses of Congress Tuesday to provide for permanent federal funding for Amtrak.
The bill, the Intercity Passenger Rail Trust Fund Act, would create dedicated funding streams to help Amtrak invest in major improvement projects, increase passenger rail efficiency, and provide safer, more reliable service.
“This bill envisions the long-term, steady funding commitment to our nation’s intercity passenger rail system necessary to ensure it is safe and reliable for passengers today and long into the future,” said Blumenthal. “Every other critical mode of transportation infrastructure in our country has a dedicated funding stream—except for passenger rail. Thanks to this dedicated funding, Amtrak would be able to continually invest in and improve operations. This action is long overdue, and this bill should be immediately advanced to ensure the safety of the traveling public.”
Currently, Intercity passenger rail is funding through the appropriations process, making it difficult to plan for long-term, comprehensive investments because of the unpredictable nature of the funding process. The bill was introduced before the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s hearing on transportation infrastructure. Over the next few months, Congress will be considering legislation to reauthorize surface transportation programs, including operations at Amtrak.
“Today, passenger rail represents an opportunity for economic revival, cleaner infrastructure, and more efficient travel; it also provides an adequate solution to ground and airport traffic congestion while incorporating rural America into a national transportation system,” said Davis. “Given the status of our nation’s infrastructure, this bill will provide resources to sustaining passenger rail with a dedicated funding stream.”
The legislation is also cosponsored by U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) in the House. The bill is also endorsed by Amtrak, Rail Passengers Association, National League of Cities, and National Disability Rights Network (NDRN).