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Amtrak wants $3.6 billion in subsidies. It probably won’t get all of that

Henry Epp Mar 31, 2023
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The rail service provider asked for a whopping $3.6 billion this fiscal year from Congress, which is more than it has ever gotten in its 50-plus years. Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Amtrak wants $3.6 billion in subsidies. It probably won’t get all of that

Henry Epp Mar 31, 2023
Heard on:
The rail service provider asked for a whopping $3.6 billion this fiscal year from Congress, which is more than it has ever gotten in its 50-plus years. Spencer Platt/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Amtrak recently made its annual budget request to Congress. If it gets its way — which is a big “if” — the passenger rail company would receive $3.6 billion, about 50% more than it got last fiscal year.

The passenger rail company is feeling bullish this year, said Robert Puentes, head of the Eno Center for Transportation, an advocacy group.

“What they have requested here is more money than Amtrak has ever received,” he said.

That’s on top of billions from the infrastructure law that passed two years ago.

Amtrak has a backlog of issues to fix. But Sean Jeans-Gail with the Rail Passengers Association hopes the company goes a step further.

“The big issue we have is making sure that this doesn’t just go to upgrade existing rail corridors but to expand the service into new parts of the country,” he said.

Amtrak didn’t get its full ask last year. Now, Republicans control the House and some conservatives want to phase out federal funding.

That includes David Ditch, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation. “Ideally, Congress would recognize that Amtrak as a national proposition makes absolutely no sense,” he said.

But, as Ditch conceded, infrastructure funding is pretty popular across party lines these days.

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