U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8), who for many years served on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, today announced his opposition to a misguided proposal to put Amtrak's long distance passenger lines, including the Northeast Corridor, and intercity passenger rail services out to private bid.
"Intercity passenger rail service is a key element of our transportation system, reducing congestion and facilitating commerce, in an environmentally friendly manner. Today's proposal is just another rehashing of plans to privatize Amtrak, one of the most reliable federal government operations. Every year, Amtrak has been serving millions of American passengers -- in record numbers in recent years," said Pascrell, a member of the House Budget Committee.
"Amtrak was created by the federal government because the private sector was unable to manage intercity rail service with a profit. Privatization has been tried and failed overseas. Every transportation system, from the roadways to the airways, requires some form of government support. The federal government has been starving the system for years, keeping it from reaching its full potential."
"This is the latest example of the House Republican Leadership's double-standard. There's the iron-clad determination to provide tax breaks for the comparatively few wealthy people among us. But no resolve to preserve the services depended upon by millions of Americans."
Today, the Republican leadership of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released some details of their Privatizing Intercity Passenger Rail for America Act, including a proposal to privatize Amtrak's Northeast Corridor Passenger Rail, Intercity Passenger Rail and long-distance passenger rail.
While all of those services would be put out to a private bidding process, there were no details given about the fate of the agreement reached in October between the federal government and Amtrak to refinance the rail service's debt and save taxpayers about $162 million.
On June 8, the National Railroad Passenger Corporation (Amtrak) reported that it reached a record-high of more than 2.6 million passengers in May 2011, and marked 19 consecutive months of year-over-year ridership growth.
Comparing the first eight months (October to May) of fiscal year 2011 with the same period of fiscal year 2010, Northeast Corridor ridership rose 5.3 percent and long-distance trains increased 5.5 percent, according to Amtrak.
Amtrak officially began service in May 1971, serves more than 500 stations in 46 states and operates over a network of more than 21,000 route miles.