Carper: Administration Plan for Amtrak Makes Matters Worse

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Tom Carper, a past member of Amtrak’s Board of Directors, welcomed the administration to the debate on the future of national passenger rail but expressed grave concerns about their plan to strip Amtrak of its greatest capital asset and to shift costs of a national service to already overburdened states. The administration must keep its commitment to a national passenger rail service, not shirk it by implementing plans that weaken service. “The administration arrives late to the debate, unfortunately carrying the wrong prescription to cure Amtrak’s ills. I’m afraid that this plan could make things much worse, not better, for national passenger rail service,” Carper said. “Strengthening national passenger rail service requires a commitment from Congress and the administration, but for too long Congress has been alone in its efforts.” “We should not run passenger trains in places where no one wants to ride them, but by starving Amtrak for capital investment, past Congresses and Presidents have never given Amtrak a real chance to succeed,” Carper said. “Much of the rest of the industrial world finds it in their naked self interest to invest heavily in their passenger rail systems. They do so to reduce their reliance on foreign oil, their trade deficits, congestion on highways and in airports as well as harmful emissions into the air. America’s self -interests are not dissimilar.” Carper recently joined 51 other Senators in signing a letter to Senate Appropriators asking that $1.2 billion be included in the Fiscal Year 2003 Transportation Appropriations Bill. Over 150 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to their appropriators requesting the same support. “Having said that, I was pleased to hear the Secretary of Transportation acknowledge that a national passenger rail service is an important part of our national transportation system. While we may disagree on how to preserve and strengthen Amtrak, I look forward to working with the Administration and my colleagues to make sure that our nation will continue to benefit from a strong national passenger rail system both now and in the future.”