October 4, 2002

Mayors Urge Congress to Fully Fund Amtrak
National Rail System Called Vital to U.S. Economy and Security

Washington, DC -- The nation's mayors today urged Congress to fully fund Amtrak, warning that Amtrak funding below $1.2 billion would jeopardize passenger and commuter rail service across the country.

Letters to Congress
  • Letter to Senator Byrd
  • Letter to Congressman Young
  • "An adequately funded national passenger rail system is essential for the economy and security of our cities and the nation," said Fort Worth Mayor Kenneth Barr, who chairs the U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation Committee, during a press conference at the annual Rail-Volution Conference.

    The mayors released a letter, signed by Boston Mayor and Conference President Thomas Menino and Mayor Barr, that was sent to members of the Senate and House leadership and Appropriations Committees, expressing concern that if a Congressional conference committee fails to approve full funding for Amtrak there could be massive cuts in rail service.

    According to Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, "Mayors from both political parties strongly support Amtrak's funding request and will continue to work with Congress and the Administration to build a strong national passenger rail system."

    Amtrak needs $1.2 billion in funding for FY '03 to operate without service cuts, a figure supported by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The House has only approved $762 million, which would assure a mid-year cash crunch for the nation's passenger rail system. The Administration proposed $521 million for Amtrak, which would keep Amtrak operating for only weeks in the new fiscal year. No comparable national passenger rail system in the world has succeeded without operating subsidies.

    Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson said, "Europe has shown the success and importance of regional and national rail systems. Until the U.S. commits to sufficient funding for rail, our transportation system will continue to be out of balance with an over-reliance on highways."

    According to a recent Washington Post poll, a large majority of Americans favor continuing federal subsidies to Amtrak, and a substantial percentage would increase federal funding so the passenger railroad can increase service.

    Mayors were joined at their press conference today by Congressman James Oberstar, Ranking Minority Member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and Congressman Earl Blumenauer, also a member of the Committee.


    The U.S. Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,139 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor. The primary roles of the Conference of Mayors are to promote the development of effective national urban/suburban policy; strengthen federal-city relationships; ensure that federal policy meets urban needs; provide mayors with leadership and management tools; and create a forum in which mayors can share ideas and information.

    Andy Solomon (202) 861-6766


    ©2004 U.S. Conference of Mayors