THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESIDENT CLINTON: SUPPORTING PASSENGER RAIL FOR OUR NATION'S TRANSPORTATION FUTURE February 28, 2000
Today at the White House, President Clinton met with members of the Board of Directors of Amtrak, including Chairman Governor Tommy Thompson and former Governor Michael Dukakis, former Amtrak Board member Governor Thomas Carper, and Secretary of Transportation Rodney Slater. The President pledged his support for full funding for passenger rail service, and called on Congress to pass his $989 million FY2001 budget request to help Amtrak achieve self-sufficiency, improve and increase the speed of rail service, laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors. The Clinton-Gore Administration has consistently supported a strong national passenger rail system to help meet our nation's growing transportation needs in the 21st century.
THE IMPORTANCE OF PASSENGER RAIL. As our nation continues its unprecedented economic growth, highways and airports are operating at capacity. Traffic congestion is hampering regional economic growth and contributing to environmental pollution. Passenger rail, including high-speed rail, can play a key role in meeting the nation's transportation needs while providing solutions to the effects of economic growth and urban sprawl. Last fall, a bipartisan group of 26 governors highlighted the increasing need for passenger rail and urged full funding for Amtrak --the only nationwide passenger rail system - in the President's FY2001 budget.
SUPPORTING FULL FUNDING FOR AMTRAK. President Clinton's 2001 budget calls for full funding for Amtrak at the authorized level of $989 million to support capital improvements and intercity passenger rail programs. This request contains an additional $418 billion above last year's funding levels - an increase of 73 per cent - and provides funds to enhance and expand intercity rail service nationwide through partnerships between Amtrak and state governments. Specifically, the request includes:
Amtrak's continued success. Amtrak operates a 22,000-mile intercity passenger rail system, serving more than 500 communities in 45 states. The corporation is focusing on developing public and private business partnerships, ensuring quality of service, and introducing high-speed rail to achieve its goal of becoming operationally self-sufficient by 2003. Recent successes include the following: