Just it time for Memorial Day weekend, Streetsblog is urging its readers to write their state representatives to support Amtrak and passenger rail. Jerrold Nadler is the only member the New York City delegation to sign on as a co-sponsor so far. It needs 218 co-sponsors to get floor time in the House, but only 41 are on board.
Here's what I wrote:
To the Honorable Charles Rangel:
I am writing to urge your support for two items:
(1) Full funding for Amtrak. Unfortunately, President Bush has only requested $800 million for Amtrak in his Fiscal 2009 budget. Please work to reject this 40% cut and fully fund Amtrak.
(2) the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act, H.R. 6003. The bill provides real, meaningful reform for Amtrak and a federal-state partnership for capital investments, which is enjoyed by the other modes of transportation.
Amtrak is important to me, and, I believe, to many of your constituents in Inwood. As you know, for most residents of Manhattan, it is not practical for us to own automobiles. Our streets as it is are highly congested and our air is heavily polluted. Oil prices are escalating daily. Thankfully, we New Yorkers are gifted with a 24-hour mass transit system that satisfies most of our transit needs within the city. However, we also need mass transit solutions for traveling outside the city, of which our national rail system, Amtrak, is a key component.
I am a frequent rider of Amtrak. I live in Inwood and travel to Albany for business and to spend time with my family. If we had a stronger rail infrastructure (such as true high-speed rail as exists in Europe and Japan), I would rarely need to fly domestically. Passenger rail is one of the most pleasant and environmentally low-impact means of long-distance travel and should be a national priority. Our dependence on foreign oil has locked us in costly wars and is degrading our environment and standard of living. America needs passenger rail now more than ever.
Thank you for considering my views.