Biden, Carper Urge Congress to Provide Full Funding for Amtrak
Bush Administration Request for Amtrak Would Result in “Shutdown”
WASHINGTON – Delaware Sens. Joe Biden and Tom Carper have urged congressional appropriators to provide double the Bush administration’s budget request for Amtrak in order to avoid a shutdown of Amtrak’s operations and an end to the system-wide capital improvements being undertaken by the rail corporation. In a letter signed by 51 senators, Biden and Carper said that under the leadership of CEO David Gunn, Amtrak has a “proven track record of controlling expenses and improving the company’s operations.” For example, ridership this year is on track of beating last year’s record of 24 million, while core-operating expenses have decreased by nearly $20 million. Biden and Carper also praised Gunn for instituting an “aggressive and much-needed” five-year capital plan that will restore the railroad’s existing plants and equipment. The Bush administration, however, in its budget request for fiscal 2005, proposed only $900 million for Amtrak, about half of what Amtrak said it needs to keep operations going and fulfill its five-year capital improvement plan. Biden and Carper said the Bush funding level would “guarantee an end to the system-wide capital improvements now being undertaken by Amtrak and result in a shutdown of Amtrak’s operations.” They also said anything less than the $1.798 billion supported by Amtrak would “impede the urgent repair and upgrade of Amtrak’s capital assets, which will have significant negative impacts on the railroad’s operational efficiency, on-time performance, revenues, costs and ridership.” A full text of the letter is attached.