Amtrak News

Amtrak News Updates from Amtrak Conductor Dave Bowe.

Date: Mon, 28 Jul 1997 07:44:36 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Washington Update 7/25 Part 2

Washington Update for Friday July 25th, Part 2
 The House of Representatives has passed a $42 billion  transportation bill
on July 24th that would severely cut Amtrak's operations budget.  The Amtrak
funding level was the only issue in dispute as lawmakers  overwhelmingly
approved the package by a vote of 424 - 5.  Ranking  Democrat Martin Sabo
(MN) of the Transportation Committee said that the  Amtrak appropriation is
"so low that it brings into question whether  Amtrak will survive the year."
 In contrast Republican subcommittee  chairman Frank Wolf (VA), architect of
last year's disastrous 28% House  cut, said that "funding alone is not the
panacea for Amtrak's financial  problems."  The cuts enacted in the last
session led to Amtrak's  decision to terminate the Desert Wind and the
Pioneer.  Lawmakers have  warned that the House bill could force Amtrak into
 The House bill significantly boosts funding for aviation and highway  safety
programs, providing $12.5 billion in new spending and allowing  the spending
of $30 billion from federal transportation trust funds.  The funding measure
gives $3.9 billion to the Coast Guard, $9 billion  for the Federal Aviation
Administration and $21.5 billion for road and  highway improvements.  The FAA
budget includes funding for 500 new air  traffic controllers and 326 safety
certification employees.  Another  $333 million was allocated for highway
safety and air bag safety  initiatives.  Those who argue that Amtrak is the
only subsidized form of  transportation need to take a long hard look at
where their taxpayer  dollars are really going.
 The total Amtrak budget was set at $793 million.  Capital funding for
 Amtrak is up but the operations side is the lowest in 20 years and is  $61
million less than the administration wanted.  Senate/House conferees  must
work out the differences before a final transportation bill is sent  to the
President for his signature.
Dave Bowe, Boston

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