Amtrak Finally Gets More Funding
The heavens are finally smiling on Amtrak, as a perfect storm of high gas prices, a slowing economy, concern over rail safety after the recent Los Angeles crash, soaring ridership and even Joe Biden's love of and support for Amtrak have helped push through the Senate a 5 year, $13 billion funding package. According to the Wall Street Journal, the bill passed the Senate by a veto-proof margin, and assuming the House approves and President Bush signs it, Amtrak will now have enough money to pay off some of its debt; cover operating expenses and the cost of buying new rail cars and expanding service; encourage states to invest in rail programs; and improve safety. In addition, the bill "contains provisions designed to make Amtrak's management more accountable, such as financial reporting standards."We recently discussed the fact that everything was looking up for Amtrak--increased ridership and positive publicity--except for funding, and it took the aforementioned perfect storm to partially solve the problem of Amtrak being perpetually underfunded. Interestingly, the outcome of the presidential election might have some bearing on Amtrak's future, as John McCain is no fan of Amtrak, whereas Biden and Obama are very supportive of the rail company.
However, the most important question will be how well Amtrak leverages the new funds to improve service, expand rail capacity, and service new markets.
Via: Wall Street Journal
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