Feds Plan to Shortchange Amtrak Would Shortchange North Carolina Under Bush and Mineta Amtrak Plan, Funding Burden Would Shift to States

Feds Plan to Shortchange Amtrak Would Shortchange North Carolina Under Bush and Mineta Amtrak Plan, Funding Burden Would Shift to States


Colin Peppard, Transportation Coordinator
202-222-0747 (office)
617-833-3875 (mobile)


February 23, 2005


Washington, DC – As Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta touted the Bush plan for bankrupting Amtrak in Charlotte yesterday, Friends of the Earth criticized the administration for jeopardizing rail service in North Carolina .


“If President Bush’s scheme for Amtrak is implemented, North Carolina is going to be saddled with a massive funding burden,” said Colin Peppard, Transportation Policy Coordinator.  “The state has already invested more than $150 million in their trains despite a chronic budget deficit – how much more does the Bush administration expect?”


Under the Bush plan, individual states would choose whether to pay for Amtrak service.  States that choose not to contribute would simply not have trains stop inside their borders.  If destinations in certain states are eliminated, ridership levels in North Carolina would likely decline.  Amtrak carried almost half a million North Carolinians between 25 local railroad stations in 2003.


“North Carolina clearly sees the value of rail service and is wisely investing in it.  But what happens if Virginia or South Carolina or Georgia decides to opt out?  Even with North Carolina ’s commitment to passenger rail, choices will be taken away for North Carolinians .  This will affect everyone from the student at High Point trying to get home for Thanksgiving to the Fayetteville businessman with a meeting in Raleigh to the family in Selma traveling to visit relatives in Savannah.”

 Amtrak is one of the most environmentally friendly ways to travel.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in 1999 (the most recent year of available data) cars and trucks emitted almost 70 percent of air pollution attributable to transportation, such as carbon monoxide and smog.  Studies show that, on average, Amtrak trains put out two-thirds less global warming pollution per passenger than cars and trucks, and half the global warming pollution of airplanes.


“Bankrupting Amtrak will lead to more roads, which mean more cars, more air pollution, more water pollution, more traffic, and more sprawl in North Carolina .  In addition to a greater financial burden on North Carolina , the environment would also be forced to shoulder a heavier burden under the Bush plan for Amtrak,” remarked Peppard.


According to the US EPA half of all Americans still live in counties where air pollution exceeds national health standards.  North Carolina ranked sixth in the nation for smog pollution between 2001 and 2003, based on the EPA 8-hour ozone health standard.  EPA monitoring stations in North Carolina recorded 894 instances of unhealthy concentrations of ground level ozone during these years.



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