Transportation secretary Mineta speaks out about Amtrak funding

| 7/1/2005

Congress has doubled the amount of federal funding for one sector of the country’s transportation infrastructure, but – surprise, surprise – it’s not the trucking industry.

On Wednesday, June 29, the U.S. House rejected a proposal that would’ve made cuts in Amtrak’s operating expenses, and instead added an additional $626 million to the beleaguered company’s budget, more than doubling its total subsidies to more than $1.17 billion, the Washington Post reported.

According to media reports, the move stands in direct contrast to President Bush’s plan for Amtrak, which involved shifting funding from direct subsidation into state-sanctioned grants.

Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta chastised the House and its Appropriations Committee for taking the easy way out of finding a financial solution for Amtrak.

“Handing over more than a billion dollars with no reforms attached only gives Amtrak a blank check to continue misspending taxpayer money,” Mineta said in a written statement.

“The President and I will continue to work with the Congress to ensure passage of reforms designed to save Amtrak and develop financially sound intercity passenger rail in this country.”

Amtrak is a privately held corporation, but the members of its board of directors are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Most of the organization’s funding comes from government subsidies and tax money.