Mfume Rails Against Plan To Breakup AMTRAK

On August 8th, Kweisi Mfume, President and CEO, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), railed against a Bush administration proposal that would breakup Amtrak into regional railroads and private companies, forcing states to pick up the operational costs. Amtrak, formed 32 years ago, is a federally funded passenger railroad system that provides service across the country.

Mfume said: "Amtrak is the lifeblood transportation system for intercity rail commuters along the Northeast Corridor. Full federal funding is the only acceptable solution for preserving and maintaining the pivotal service Amtrak provides. Placing the burden of paying for the railroad on the states, many of which are already financially strapped, is the wrong course to take. Immediate measures should be taken to correct the disproportionate federal subsidy given to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Federal Highway Administration (FHA), which this year received $16 billion and $31 billion respectively, while Amtrak received only $1 billion. By comparison, the decades-long under funding of Amtrak has served to prevent a cost free operation."

Amtrak operates approximately 265 trains daily in 46 states. Last year, about 23.4 million passengers traveled on the railroad. The Northeast Corridor, which includes the eastern seaboard states of Maryland and Virginia thru New England, carries the most passengers.

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