Trump spending plan shifts Amtrak budget burden to states

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President Donald Trump
The White House
WASHINGTON — Passenger railroad advocates may take cold comfort in President Donald Trump's proposed 2019 budget for Amtrak. In his 2018 proposal, Trump's budget would eliminate Amtrak's national network entirely. This year, it's up to the states to pony up the money to keep long-distance trains running. The problem is, where will the states get the money?

According to the White House Office of Management & Budget's budget narrative, having states share the burden of operating subsidies, would make “states more equal partners with the federal government, and would strengthen the responsiveness of Amtrak to the communities they serve.”

The budget narrative is a 160-page summary that is separate from the 1,300-page formal budget document.

Several media outlets have noted that cash-strapped states are not capable of taking on an extra burden such as sharing the cost of rail passenger service.

By the numbers, network grants to Amtrak would drop from $1.15 billion in 2018 to $538 million in 2019. The cut “proposes reforms to Amtrak to improve efficiencies and effectiveness of long-distance routes,” according to the budget's explanatory notes.

However, the budget narrative goes on to say that “state contributions to long distance routes is only one tool in the menu of options” the administration will be exploring.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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