Carper: Amtrak Deal Not a Real Solution

WILMINGTON, DE – The deal reached by the administration and Amtrak last night does not solve Amtrak financial problems or guarantee the trains run through this fiscal year, Senator Tom Carper announced today. Carper issued the following statement on the plan: “After about a week during which senators and members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have been urging the Administration to act, we heard last night that Secretary Mineta and Amtrak had reached a tentative agreement that would avert a July shutdown. From what I understand of this agreement – and the details are sketchy at best — it is not a clean fix. “For instance, the Administration has said they are going to give Amtrak a $100 million loan to keep it running. It is not clear where this money is coming from and whether it will require Amtrak to agree to conditions they may not be able to meet. We simply don’t know because they have not been made public. “Moreover, even if Amtrak could agree to the conditions and the funds were made available, this is only half of what everyone recognizes Amtrak will need to make it through the end of the year. “While I appreciate the Administration’s interest in resolving this issue, this “fix” as we understand it just doesn’t add up. Unless the Administration can come forward and explain their proposal to Congress and the American people today, we cannot say with confidence that Amtrak and thousands of commuters are out of the woods. “I had hoped that the Administration would not hold the hundreds of thousands daily rail passengers hostage to conditions that Amtrak may not be able to meet or, even worse, may harm the company. Sadly, it appears that’s exactly what this tentative agreement we’re hearing about does. “President Bush needs to tell us today what he is going to do to avert an Amtrak shutdown so that we can do what we need to do before we adjourn for the July 4th recess. More than 60,000 daily Amtrak riders and 250,000 commuter rail passenger are depending on him. “Today Secretary Mineta indicated that the Administration would be asking Congress for a $170 million appropriation for Amtrak. We urge that the Administration make this request official so we can appropriate the funds and Amtrak can continue to operate through the end of the year.”