Budget office proposes defunding Federal Transit Administration, Amtrak

RELATED TOPICS: LEGISLATION | AMTRAK | TRANSIT | PASSENGER
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WASHINGTON — A report issued last week by the Congressional Budget Office says eliminating the Federal Transit Administration would save $127 billion from 2021 through 2028, and that abolishing funding for Amtrak would avoid $19.8 billion in projected federal spending.

The American Public Transportation Association responded immediately, saying it “strongly opposed” the idea. “Eliminating federal funding for public transportation will drastically reduce mobility and job opportunities for Americans and will make our country less competitive,” said Paul P. Skoutelas, president of APTA.

The budget office report comes on the heal of the largest November monthly federal budget deficit in history. The $204.9 billion shortfall, reported by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, was $66.4 billion higher than last year.

The budget office, which is nonpartisan, provides arguments both for and against its proposals.

Its case in favor of eliminating the FTA is that public transit systems serve local or regional riders and should be financed at the local or state level. Its counter-argument states, “Without continued federal funding, transit services would be trimmed and systems would deteriorate, leading to increased road use, with its attendant problems of traffic congestion, accidents, and emissions of local air pollutants and greenhouse gases.”

In proposing to remove funding for Amtrak, the office says subsidies were originally viewed as temporary measures, “intended to help Amtrak become self-supporting.” But it also notes these cuts would cause hardship for passengers who rely on intercity trains. Rail travel benefits society, the report notes, and loss of federal support “could undermine the future viability of passenger rail service in the United States.”

These proposals were included in a list of 121 suggested policy options contained in the CBO’s annual Options for Reducing the Deficit” report, many of which are political non-starters.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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