Several passenger rail advocates were fortunate to meet with Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) in April while we were at the National Association of Railroad Passengers meeting in Washington, DC.
Of course, not everyone has the opportunity to meet with Congressional representatives in person, but Rep. Jayapal has some suggestions, taken from a Facebook Live interview published in Crosscut.
Is the new Resistbot app [which allows a person to text a message and have it show up in a congressional member’s office as a fax] a good way for the public to provide feedback?
Our mailroom tells our office we get the most mail of any congressional district in the country. I think it’s something like 80,000 phone calls, emails and letters that we have received. The most effective thing is when we get a personal message or person’s story. It doesn’t mean you can’t use Resistbot with a standard message. But if you take that standard message and add something that is personal to you and why it important to you, it really makes a big difference. If we see it as part of a campaign, it probably doesn’t have as much impact.
And there are many ways to advocate for passenger rail. Check them out!
All of the anti-Amtrak amendments sponsored by Rep. Posey of Florida and Rep. Sessions of Texas have failed in this evening’s votes, with both Republicans and Democrats supporting rail. Click the links below for a lists of how your representative voted. If they voted for rail, please thank them!
Rep. Sessions’ H.Amdt.407: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds to support Amtrak’s route with the highest loss, measured by contributions/(loss) per rider. This amendment would target the Sunset Limited (Louisiana – California). https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/407
Rep. Sessions’ H.Amdt.409: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds to support any Amtrak route whose costs exceed two times its revenues. https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/409
Rep. Posey’s H.Amdt.405: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to take any actions with respect to the financing of passenger rail projects along Florida’s East Coast.https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/405
Rep. Posey’s H.Amdt.411 https://www.congress.gov/amendment/114th-congress/house-amendment/411 : An amendment to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to authorize exempt facility bonds to finance passenger rail projects that cannot attain the speed of 150 mph.
Rep. Posey’s H.AMDT.413: An amendment to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Transportation to make a loan in an amount that exceeds $600 million under the Railroad Revitalization and Regulatory Reform Act.
||On agreeing to the Posey amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 163 – 260 (Roll no. 313).
||On agreeing to the Sessions amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 205 – 218 (Roll no. 314).
||On agreeing to the Sessions amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 186 – 237 (Roll no. 315).
||On agreeing to the Posey amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 148 – 275 (Roll no. 317).
||On agreeing to the Posey amendment; Failed by recorded vote: 134 – 287 (Roll no. 318).
The House is proposing a 40 percent funding cut for Amtrak in a new passenger rail bill that was unveiled on Thursday by the chamber’s Transportation Committee.
Amtrak has received about $1 billion per year from the federal government since its inception in 1971. But Republican leaders on the panel said the long-overdue rail funding measure would force the company to streamline its operations and survive mostly on the money that is generated by ticket sales.
The bill is unlikely to be approved by lawmakers before this year’s elections.
The bill also has some odd provisions, including one about boarding procedures, and another about “reinvesting profits from the NEC.”
Time to badger Congress for Amtrak expansion
In Wisconsin, 85% of residents say they want Amtrak funding increased or maintained at current levels, according to a new survey.
It’s been more than 150 years since railroad fever first brought rail service to the Badger State. And while just about everything else has changed in the last century and a half, one thing hasn’t: Wisconsinites still love trains and in particular are fans of our national passenger railroad, Amtrak.
A new survey of Wisconsin residents sends a clear message that expanding Amtrak service must be a part of the state’s transportation future….
And those views transcend party politics and labels. Indeed, one of the only places where Amtrak is not in demand is in Congress, where some lawmakers are still peddling unpopular budgets for Amtrak that would bankrupt the railroad.
With Congress preparing to rewrite the law that governs Amtrak, now is the time for elected officials to listen to their constituents.
In Wisconsin, 85% of residents say they want Amtrak funding increased or maintained at current levels, according to the survey. Very few want to see its funding eliminated. Nearly three out of four Wisconsin residents want the option of additional service to Minneapolis-St. Paul and Chicago. There is overwhelming support for expanded service across all demographic groups, all of whom have no problem with the $1 billion yearly federal investment in Amtrak, and many who would like to see it expanded.
Interestingly, the strong support for Amtrak in Wisconsin comes despite the fact that residents currently have limited rail service options. Nearly 80% said they have not been a passenger on Amtrak in the past two years; no surprise here given that the carrier provides only one long-distance train and one corridor service. These views also contrast with Wisconsin’s governor, who, in 2011, sent $850 million in already approved passenger rail funds back to the federal government.
The popularity of Amtrak transcends blue state/red state divisions, offering a striking example of nonpartisan pragmatism that elected leaders would do well to emulate. In fact, Amtrak’s favorable/unfavorable rating was 66%-18% among Republicans and 67%-21% among conservatives. After all, providing passenger rail service is not a Democratic or Republican issue; it’s a public interest issue.
From the US Department of Transportation’s FastLane blog:
Last Tuesday, it was a privilege to be able to send Congress the GROW AMERICA transportation bill, our comprehensive plan to create millions of good new jobs building the transportation system America will need to remain competitive in today’s economy. And it was an honor to cap the day by addressing the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) annual citizen advocacy event, “NARP Day on the Hill.” Continue reading GROW AMERICA keeps rail passengers moving forward
The proposal to provide $19 billion for improved rail service needs us to be active supporters and lobbyists if it’s going to happen. We’d like to turn this site into an online community where we could share information and ideas, and encourage people to become active spokespeople for better train service. We can also support NARP and the local rail advocacy organizations in their efforts.