Brindisi Reveals: Just-Released Trump Budget Would Derail Utica & Rome Amtrak Service & Stations
President just released his budget that slashes Amtrak funds in half – from $1.4b to $738m; but to make matters worse, another, ‘special cut’ of $128 million, would take direct aim at Utica & Rome’s Amtrak stations
Assemblyman makes major push to stop this train wreck before it is too late & Oneida County rail service is in jeopardy
Brindisi: I will rail night & day to stop these senseless cuts to our critical train service
Utica – Standing in Utica’s Union Station, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi said today that the Trump Administration’s 2019 federal budget blueprint released this week directly threatens – and could go so far as to effectively end – long-distance rail travel in certain parts of the northeast, including Utica and Rome.
“Simply put, the White House’s 2019 budget would derail our local Amtrak service and put our community in the crosshairs of egregious and unnecessary new costs,” said Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi. “Not only does the proposal dramatically slash federal funding for Amtrak – it also shifts much of the funding responsibility to states and localities at a time when they already are shouldering over three quarters of the burden of infrastructure funding in our country. With New York already reeling from the recent effects of the Republican tax bill, it’s outrageous that New York would be asked to pick up much of the tab for rail service, which would mean even higher taxes for Mohawk Valley residents.”
In response to the plan, Brindisi called on New York’s Congressional delegation to immediately reject the White House budget proposal that he says will harm the state’s economy, inconvenience local business and tourism travel, and jeopardize the safety of rail passengers. Brindisi wants New York’s federal delegation to immediately get to work in a bipartisan fashion and undo the cuts.
The Trump Administration fiscal year 2019 budget proposes cutting annual federal subsidies to Amtrak in half – from $1.495 billion to $738 million, as well as a $128 million funding cut for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor – the pot of money that directly funds Utica and Rome rail service – and links Utica and Rome with Albany, New York City, and Buffalo. In addition, two vital federal grant programs to upgrade rail safety would end. The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure Grant Program and the State of Good Repair Grants would both be eliminated through $93 million in federal cuts.
Amtrak recently reported that last year set records in the Northeast Corridor for ridership – over 12 million passengers, or a one percent increase over 2016. Total ridership for Amtrak also increased to over 31 million passenger trips, and operating earnings improved about 16 percent over 2016. Over the past three years, Utica’s Union Station has averaged about 60,000 riders a year, while the Rome train station has seen over 9,000 passengers a year.
“In releasing his budget, the White House has made it as clear as day that there is no forward-thinking plan to keep the economy on track, especially when you go and slash rail service that has helped keep Utica and Rome connected with New York City and business and commerce and tourism,” Brindisi said. “Moreover, we are in a time when several recent rail accidents have shown we need to boost rail safety – not yesterday – but immediately, and the administration offers no new federal funding for rail safety initiatives, and in fact cuts funding for much needed programs to improve safety for rail travelers. Instead, what’s proposed is a patchwork system where safe train routes could end at state lines, since safety improvements and oversight of the rail system would largely be left up to state and local governments. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that some states would simply be unable to make up the funding difference, and some long-distance rail lines would be eliminated,” Brindisi warned.
“Thousands of Mohawk Valley residents depend on Amtrak service to get to and from work assignments, college, to visit family, or for tourism. The Trump budget proposal threatens what has become a popular way to get from Point A to Point B in upstate New York. It would place a new fiscal burden on already strapped state and local governments. I am urging New York’s Congressional delegation to make sure that this plan is derailed and these cuts are restored—there is no time to waste,” Brindisi concluded.
(Below is a link to the president’s 2019 budget plan. Details on the Amtrak proposal can be found on page 87.)