2004 Adopted Resolutions
72nd Annual Meeting
Boston

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SUPPORT OF AMTRAK’S NATIONAL SYSTEM AND OPPOSITION TO THE ELIMINATION OF LONG DISTANCE ROUTES

     WHEREAS, Amtrak annually provides intercity passenger rail travel to over 24 million Americans residing in 46 states; and

     WHEREAS, Amtrak was able to completely turn around its finances and closed out 2003 with $150 million by sound fiscal stewardship while enjoying the most riders in the railroad’s 32-year history with 24 million riders; and

     WHEREAS, in highly populated regions Amtrak trains carry commuters to and from work in congested metropolitan areas providing a reliable rail option, reducing congestion on roads and in the skies; and

     WHEREAS, for many rural Americans, Amtrak represents the only major intercity transportation link to the rest of the country; and

     WHEREAS, passenger rail provides a more fuel-efficient transportation system thereby providing cleaner transportation alternatives and helping to reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil; and

     WHEREAS, the United States government has significantly undercapitalized the national Amtrak system for decades, failed to provide passenger rail with a dedicated secure source of funding like other modes enjoy and has not supported passenger rail as many other nations have; and

     WHEREAS, no comparable national passenger rail system in the world has succeeded without operating subsidies; certainly no system has ever succeeded without substantial public capital investment; and

     WHEREAS, Rail Passenger Service Restructuring, Reauthorization, and Development Act (S.2306) proposes the establishment of a commission to close down long-distance routes, would split Amtrak into several entities, and requires a multi-state Northeast Corridor compact to lease the corridor from the federal government; and

     WHEREAS, Amtrak has requested $1.8 billion for fiscal year 2005; however, the President’s recommended budget amount for Amtrak is $900 million, a 26% cut from last year’s appropriation and an amount that would shut down the national system; and

     WHEREAS, the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Transportation, Kenneth Mead, stated in Congressional testimony that funding at $1.346 billion “merely postpones the day of reckoning and that day is surely coming.  Amtrak cannot continue to operate the current system without eventually and soon addressing the backlog of investment needed to bring that system to a state-of-good-repair.  Otherwise, unacceptable and unpredictable equipment and infrastructure problems will surely begin a downward spiral of diminished service levels and disappearing passenger service”, and

     NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the Administration and Congress to invest in Amtrak by creating a long-term sustainable federal funding mechanism to provide Amtrak with a fair and consistent source of capital and operating support for intercity and passenger rail; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the United States Conference of Mayors urges the Administration and Congress to provide at least $1.8 billion for Amtrak in FY05 to not only sustain but also improve our national intercity passenger rail system over the next year; and 

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the Administration and Congress to reject efforts to eliminate long-distance routes, break up and privatize Amtrak inter-city passenger rail operations; and

     BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that The United States Conference of Mayors urges the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration to take financial and operational responsibility for securing our nation’s passenger and commuter rail systems.