Four Billion or Bust: National Campaign Launches for High Speed Rail Funding

For Immediate Release


Phone: (202) 546-9707

Four Billion or Bust: National Campaign Launches for High Speed Rail Funding

WASHINGTON - As Congress finalizes this year’s transportation spending bill,
more than 100 organizations, public officials, municipalities, and small
businesses from around the country have come together to support a full $4
billion investment in high speed passenger rail.

Last month, the U.S. Public
Interest Group
, Transportation for America, the Midwest High Speed Rail
Association, and Virginians for High Speed Rail set up to show
Congress the overwhelming nationwide demand that exists for high speed rail

Along with the more than 100 organizations and public officials, more
than 2,500 individuals have also signed on. 

“The public is broadly supportive of a faster, stronger rail
system in this country. Across borders, regions, and political affiliations,
they are calling on Congress to make this investment,” said John Krieger, Federal
Transportation Policy Analyst
for U.S. PIRG.

The House version of the FY2010 transportation appropriations bill,
which passed with bipartisan support, included a $4 billion allocation for high
speed passenger rail. 

The majority of the members in the House voted on more than one
occasion to deny attempts to lessen the high speed rail funding. The Senate
then cut the appropriation down by nearly 75 percent, to $1.2 billion, in their
bill, which passed in late September.  The two bills will now move to a
conference committee, which will decide the final amount of the funding by the
end of the month.

Americans are turning to passenger rail in record
numbers. Rail travel ridership increased each of the last six years, while
vehicle miles traveled for cars and trucks has fallen over the last two years
for the first time since the oil crisis of the 1970s.

State and local leaders are searching for the means to
meet this demand. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the
Federal Railroad Administration has received close to 300 pre-applications so
far from 40 states totaling more than $100 billion in requests for high speed
intercity passenger rail grant funding under the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act.

 “A national network of fast, frequent and
dependable trains is a critical tool for reinventing the nation's
economy.  The states have recognized the need to expand our railroad
system,” said Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed
Rail Association, “It is urgent that Congress follow through with
the needed funding."


U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs), stands up to powerful special interests on behalf of the American public, working to win concrete results for our health and our well-being. With a strong network of researchers, advocates, organizers and students in state capitols across the country, we take on the special interests on issues, such as product safety,political corruption, prescription drugs and voting rights,where these interests stand in the way of reform and progress.

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