FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:|
September 26, 2000
Washington, DC --Testifying on behalf of The United States Conference of Mayors before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Richmond (VA) Mayor Timothy Kaine affirmed the nation's mayors strong support for S. 1900, the High Speed Rail Investment Act. This legislation calls for new tax credits to stimulate the investment of $10 billion over the next ten years in high-speed passenger rail systems.
Kaine pointed out that currently, local governments and regional agencies own and operate more than 90% of the nation's transit systems (such as subways, buses, light rail and trolleys), and are making significant investments in regional passenger rail and connecting systems. "Local areas are now committing billions of dollars to local rail projects, which makes us all the more concerned about the vitality and strength of the nation's inter-city passenger rail system. These local projects, with their local and inter-city bus connections, will link passengers to a national rail network, and vice versa, to form a more seamless transportation system."
In his remarks Kaine noted that an increased national investment in passenger rail could help the nation achieve longstanding social and environmental goals. "Increasingly, there is an emerging consensus that such investment can help us to achieve important social objectives such as improved mobility and choice, cleaner air, and smarter growth." This investment would also, Kaine stated, "boost our economy's productivity, increase safety, create jobs, and enable our highways and airports to fulfill their potential."
He noted there is a "railvolution" that is now underway all across America, prompting the mayors to call for a national rail policy for the 21st century. Led by Conference President and Boise Mayor H. Brent Coles, the Mayors have been meeting to develop a transition strategy to increase investment in passenger rail, with the most recent session earlier this month at the Conference's Boise Leadership Meeting. At this session, the Mayors urged the top policy advisors to the Bush and Gore Campaigns to make investment in rail infrastructure. As part of this process, the policy developed by the Mayors identifies enactment of S. 1900 as the most important first step in crafting a new rail policy for the nation. The Mayors expect to highlight this issue throughout the presidential campaign and transition, and plan to convene a National Rail Summit during the 69th Winter of the Conference of Mayors in January 2001, during the Inaugural Week.
The Senate Commerce Committee hearing precedes by one day expected action by the Senate Finance Committee on S. 1900 and other pending tax issues.
The United States Conference of Mayors is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are about 1,100 such cities in the United states today. Each city is represented in the membership of the Conference by its chief elected official, the Mayor.