(Washington, DC) Congresswoman Corrine Brown, Ranking Member on the Transportation’s Committee’s Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials subcommittee, made the following statement:
“While Congressman Mica refuses to focus on critical infrastructure issues, he is bent on destroying Amtrak. We have no surface reauthorization bill and next week will be forced to delay the Federal Aviation Administration bill for the 20th time. At the very time that we should be working together to solve the problems plaguing this nation's transportation infrastructure, Chairman Mica is introducing divisive legislation that is dead on arrival in the Senate.”
Although I support the private sector’s involvement in passenger rail to some extent, and believe there is a lot we can learn from the experience of the private sector, I categorically do not support cherry picking the best routes on our national system and turning them over to a private company. We need the operators of public transportation to be worried about the passengers they serve, not about wealthy company stockholders.
I want to reiterate my strong support for Amtrak, which has been micro-managed and financially starved for most of its existence. Our nation created Amtrak because the freight railroads were unable to make a profit on passenger service, yet we continue to criticize Amtrak for not making enough money. The Bush Administration even went so far as proposing in its FY2006 budget to force Amtrak into bankruptcy. To demand that Amtrak operates a 21st Century rail system with infrastructure build in the 1890’s, truly defies logic.
The United States used to have the best passenger rail system in the world. Now we are the caboose and cabooses don’t even exist anymore! The American people deserve better, and privatizing Amtrak’s rail lines along the Northeast Corridor is definitely not the way to improve our nation’s passenger rail system.”