2020 Passenger Rail Day of Action
On the week of March 31, 2020 Rail Passengers members from all across the nation will engage in a virtual Rail Passengers Day on the Hill to fight for more and better passenger trains in the U.S.
This page is our one-stop advocacy resource for passengers looking to help us build a better passenger rail and transit system in America.
Because Congress is struggling to respond to problems in every part of the U.S. economy, in addition to helping our healthcare system deal with the strain, we will need to be focused and to the point with our message to offices. We've ranked the different sections of our ask into three tiers, in order of importance.
Tier 1 - Responding to Coronavirus
Job one for passenger advocates will be ensuring that intercity rail operators and transit agencies are able to survive the precipitous drop in ridership and revenue from coronavirus travel restrictions. Transit agencies across the U.S. are reporting sharp drops in ridership, and Amtrak saw an overall drop of 92% in ridership. If we want these services to return when travel restrictions are lifted, we'll need Congress to provide short-term financial assistance.
Fortunately, Congress is poised to pass an aid package that addressed the first wave of financial hardships for operators. Please deliver this message in your meeting with your elected officials:
- Thank You: We need to tell Representatives and Senators "On behalf of the 28,000 Rail Passengers members, thank your for delivering for Amtrak, railroad workers, and transit agencies. The $1 billion for Amtrak and $25 billion for transit was essential to the services I depend on to get to work and to stay connected to other parts of the country."
- Transportation Keeps the U.S. Economy Moving: in addition to employing over 13 million people, the transportation sector is a foundational part of our economy. If we want to get America back to work, we need Congress to ensure that these transit agencies and commuter railroads are still able to move U.S. workers.
- Passenger Rail Investment Will Put Americans Back to Work: As Congress turns to additional phases for relief, passenger and transit should be a critical component of any economic recovery package. There are tens of billions of dollars worth of rail projects that could be quickly funded to create construction and manufacturing jobs for Americans -- and they will produce long-term benefits for America's transportation infrastructure.
Please direct congressional staffers to RailPassengers.org/COVID19, where Rail Passengers is tracking the most up to date information on the needs of rail operators, transit agencies, and shovel-ready rail projects that could be included in economic recovery legislation.
Tier 2 - Ask your House Representative to Support Strong Funding in FY2021
The next step will be introducing staffers to our Fiscal Year 2021 Legislative Request one-pager, which will provide funding for the coming year for transit agencies and Amtrak. We're asking you to share the one-pager with offices, and highlight the following programs.
Rail Passengers is asking for the following funding for rail and transit programs:
--Amtrak - National Network: $1.326 billion
--Amtrak - Corridor Development Program: $300 million
--Amtrak – NEC: $714 million
--Consolidated Rail Infrastructure & Safety Grants: $375 million
--Federal State Partnership for State of Good Repair: $500 million
--Restoration & Enhancement Grants: $50 million
--Transit Formula Grants: $11.4 billion
--Capital Investment Grants: $3.8 billion for the New Starts program
--WMATA Transit Grants: $150 million
--BUILD Grants: $1.5 billion
In addition to the above funding items, we would also ask you to highlight our policy recommendations, which includes:
- Ensuring continued service to existing long-distance routes;
- Solutions for improving On-Time Performance;
- Improving on-board food & beverage service;
- Making it easier launch new services and add frequncies on shared-use corridors.
Tier 3 - Share Our Briefing Documents With Your Elected Officials
Finally, we will be asking advocates to share our surface transportation reauthorization blueprint. While it is very unlikely that Congress will have the bandwidth to pass a reauthorization this year, it is important to remind offices that we have drafted a larger vision for passenger rail in the U.S.
Simply ask staffers to go to RailPassengers.org/Leg.Resources for all the important talking points and documents to share with your elected officials.
--We've provided an easy "How To" guide excerpted from "A Beginner's Guide to RPA Day on the Hill," written by our Council Member T.J. Girsch. This will help walk you through the process of setting up a meeting for our national Rail Passengers Day on the Hill -- whether it's over the phone or in-person with a Congressional staffer who work in district.
--Please remember: let us know when you schedule meetings with our easy-to-use Day on the Hill Meeting Submission Form!
"The support from the Rail Passengers Association, and from all of you individually, has been incredibly important to Amtrak throughout our history and especially so during the last trying year."
Bill Flynn, Amtrak CEO
April 19, 2021, speaking to attendees at the Rail Passengers Virtual Spring Advocacy Conference