Bush administration wants to eliminate direct federal funding of Amtrak and
turn over much of the responsibility for passenger rail service over the next
six years to state governments, according to news accounts.
a Bush administration proposal that went to Congress July 29, billions in
federal subsidies that have kept Amtrak afloat for decades would be replaced by
50-50 matching grants to states. Amtrak has received $26.6 billion in
government subsidies during its 32-year existence.
plan also would split Amtrak into operating and maintenance companies and open
both to competition from outside contractors.
believe that our states and localities, in partnership with the federal
government, are best suited to decide how and when to operate passenger rail
service," Transportation Department Secretary Norman Mineta said.
would create regional coalitions to oversee train service and eventually would
have the option of contracting service to private rail companies. State
officials would set priorities and make decisions about how and where to
provide train service.
chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, Sen. John McCain, said the railroad
had little to show for the billions of dollars spent on it.
reform is needed," the Arizona Republican said.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, chairwoman of the Surface Transportation
Subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee, plans to introduce legislation
this week that will spend substantially more than the administration proposes.
you turn Amtrak over to the states, it's gone,” Hutchison said.
Amtrak, formed in 1971 from defunct passenger railroads,
serves 500 communities in 46 states on 22,000 miles of track.