Schumer Launches Campaign To Save Amtrak In Capital Region - New Administration Budget Proposal Would Shut It Down, Devastate Economy
Senator Launches Bipartisan Push to Stop Plan That Would Shut Down Amtrak in 7 Months, Closing Major Economic Artery Between Cap Region and NYC
650,000 Passengers Passed Through Albany-Rensselaer Station Last Year; Amtrak Vital to Capital Region
Senator Says 500 Capital Region Jobs Could Be Eliminated
Standing inside one of Amtraks busiest stations in the country, US Senator Charles E. Schumer today joined local community and business leaders to launch an allout push to stop the Bush Administration from shutting down Amtrak. The Presidents budget which was recently sent to Congress includes no money for Amtraks operating expenses and would effectively shut Amtrak down on October 1, the first day of the US Governments fiscal year.
The more you learn about the new Budget, the more you feel like this is a game of whackamole, and were the ones trying to stamp down attempts to shortchange the Northeast and New York all over the place, Schumer said. Eliminating Amtrak wouldnt just hurt the Capital Region, it could devastate the entire economy of the Northeast.
Schumer emphasized that without Amtrak, the regional economy would be crippled, considering the service is a vital economic artery, connecting New York City and the Capital Region, and that Amtrak employs 500 workers both here at the station and at the local maintenance facility. Schumer also discussed that in the event of a shut down of the national airspace, as happened following the attacks of September 11, 2001, regional rail service provides the nations transportation network with redundancy: if air travel is halted, commerce must rely solely on regional passenger rail.
Schumer expressed his concern about the immediate aftereffects of an Amtrak shutdown and doubt in the Presidents assumption that private carriers would immediately pick up many of Amtraks routes, including the Empire Line.
In 2004, more than 10.3 million passengers took Amtrak in New York State including 650,000 arriving or departing through AlbanyRensselaer, the countrys 14th busiest train station. Last year, 1.1 million passengers rode the Empire Corridor, connecting NYC, Albany and Western New York. Schumer said that thousands of businesses rely on Amtrak service for convenient travel not only to major cities such as Albany, Boston, Washington but also to numerous destinations throughout New York State including Buffalo, Hudson, Syracuse, and the rest of the country. Over the last 7 years, Amtrak has invested more than $1 billion in New York State alone.
Amtrak employs 1,938 New Yorkers earning more than $69 million and last year purchased $18.5 million in goods and services in New York State. To keep peace with the growing demand, Amtrak in April added an 11th roundtrip train on weekdays as well as more weekend service in the corridor between Albany and New York City. The Presidents proposal to eliminate Amtraks subsidy would literally force service to shut down, cutting off this vital transportation lifeline for millions of commuters and visitors and costing the New York economy millions.
Sometimes, a budget proposal is pennywise and poundfoolish. This plan to gut Amtrak doesnt even meet that low standard, and thats why together were going to do everything we can to stop it, Schumer said.
Schumer concluded, We will not allow New York to be so unfairly hurt in this budget process. All of us here and everyone in New York are All Aboard this campaign to save Amtrak.