Your weekly source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the RPA Blog.

Hotline #772

The House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, chaired by Bob Carr (D.-Mich.), held on May 5 its annual hearingon 1994 Amtrak funding. Amtrak made a convincing pitch for a 1993 supplemental appropriation, but supplemental funding for Amtrak realistically depends on the White House seeking the money. It is not clear what the White House will do. One supplemental bill may reach the full House Appropriations Committee on May 12 and the floor on May 17, but it is unclear if any transportation

Hotline #771

The Clinton Administration released a high-speed rail policy, which is incorporated into a new House bill, H.R.1919. The bill is the strongest statement yet that any Administration has made on high-speed rail. It amends the 4-R Act of 1976 and authorizes $1.3 billion over five years, through 1998. That includes the $140 million for high-speed rail in the Administration's 1994 DOT appropriations request. Of that $140 million, $96 million would go to a corridor assistance program, which, in ISTEA

Hotline #770

Unless some way is found to resurrect additional funding for Amtrak, the demise late on April 21 of the Clinton stimulus package means that Amtrak will furlough 341 more employees at Beech Grove and 136 in Delaware by July 1. Transportation Secretary Federico Pena appeared before the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee on April 21. He left the door open on a possible 1993 Amtrak operating supplemental, saying he would have to look at financial results early next month before decid

Hotline #769

Congress returns next week. The Senate may vote on April 20 on a Republican alternative to the Clinton stimulus package, which could foreshadow terms of whatever finally passes. Senate Minority Leader Robert Dole (R.-Kans.) reportedly wants no Amtrak money in his bill, but might listen to pro-Amtrak Republican colleagues. It is especially important for NARP's Indiana members to call Senators Coats and Lugar and tell them that without the stimulus funds, Beech Grove faces more layoffs instead of

Hotline #768

Seven Republicans voted against the Danforth amendment on March 31, and thus voted for Amtrak. We apologize for omitting Senator Specter (R.-Pa.) from last week's list of pro-Amtrak votes. Also, some callers on March 26 heard a week-old message after an introduction indicating they would get a new text. If you would like a refund for this, send us a note that includes the number from which you placed the call. President Clinton released his budget yesterday. As expected, in 1994, he would conti

Hotline #767

An amendment to strike all Amtrak funding from the Clinton stimulus package was introduced by Sen. John Danforth (R.-Mo.) on March 31. Even though part of the funding is to pay for parts the rehired workers would need, Danforth used simple division to conclude, falsely, that Amtrak funding would produce jobs at a cost of $122,000 per worker. Danforth's opening statement concluded, "What is really outrageous is we are weighing in in such a heavy-handed fashion on the side of one competing mode of

Hotline #766

Although the Senate yesterday approved the budget resolution that President Clinton wanted, the Senate's vote next week on the stimulus package of supplemental 1993 funding will decide whether and when Amtrak gets its $188 million. Senators Boren and Breaux were negotiating with the Administration, but they contemplate delaying up to six months about half of the stimulus package -- including all the Amtrak funding and 36% of the transit funding -- while allowing all the highway and airport spend

Hotline #765

President Clinton's selection of Mort Downey as Deputy Secretary of Transportation has been applauded loudly by the American Public Transit Association. Downey worked for the Carter DOT and as New York MTA's executive director and chief financial officer. The southbound Silver Star struck a gasoline tanker truck north of Fort Lauderdale on March 17. The truck had stopped in error on the crossing because of traffic ahead. The truck exploded, touching off a fireball that killed the driver and fiv

Hotline #764

The House Appropriations Committee has passed the Clinton 1993 supplemental funding/stimulus package. Also, the House Budget Committee has passed a budget resolution with spending guidelines for fiscal years 1994 through 1998. It has more spending cuts than the President sought and freezes non-entitlement spending at 1993 levels, with no room for inflation, for all five years. But it is unclear whether the freeze is at 1993 levels with or without the stimulus funding. The Senate Budget Committee

Hotline #763

PATH train service from New Jersey to the rail station below the World Trade Center in Manhattan was restored by morning rush hour on March 1, which is near-miraculous considering the amount of damage there from the fatal February 26 bomb blast. The station is just below the parking garage where the terrorist bomb was and its ceiling collapsed onto the tracks and platforms. The target date for opening the Los Angeles-San Diego line is now March 10. It was closed by a landslide on February 22.