Proceedings, Debates of the U.S. Congress
SUPPORT FOR AMTRAK LOAN GUARANTEE
(House of Representatives - June 26, 2002)
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[Page H4035] From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office [www.gpo.gov] SUPPORT FOR AMTRAK LOAN GUARANTEE The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Scott) is recognized for 5 minutes. Mr. SCOTT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of a $200 million loan guarantee for the Amtrak national passenger rail system and to urge the administration to expeditiously and favorably respond to Amtrak's request. Amtrak services well over 500 cities and towns throughout the Nation and is a safe, efficient, and affordable mode of transporting millions of Americans to work and leisure activities each year. The events of September 11 clearly underscore the need for an alternative mode of transportation to air travel. In the 8 months since the 9-11 attacks, Amtrak ridership has remained strong, despite a weakened economy, significant reductions in travel and tourism, and steep declines in domestic air travel. In my own congressional district, the city of Richmond, Virginia, has invested over $48 million in the restoration of the historic Main Street Station. Amtrak will be a major provider of service; and after 10 years of planning, the first phase of renovations is now finally under way and trains are expected to begin stopping at the Main Street Station within the next 6 to 8 months. Mr. Speaker, passenger rail service is an essential component to our plans to create a multimodal transportation center at the Main Street Station, and an Amtrak shutdown will leave a significant gap in our region's transportation network. A shutdown of Amtrak will also lead to the possible halt in other linked services, including the Virginia Railway Express, which transports 12,000 riders each day, many coming into Washington, D.C. on rail rather than adding to the congestion on Interstate 395. Mr. Speaker, each year, this Congress appropriates significant dollars in the way of subsidies to our highways and national aviation system; yet we fail to provide the same level of support and commitment to passenger rail. A responsible Federal investment in our Nation's passenger rail system is long overdue. I believe this Congress is ready to work toward that end; but in the short term, I urge the administration to make available the resources that Amtrak needs to sustain its national operations. ____________________