MIPRC asks Congress to support American Jobs Plan's passenger rail provisions, FAST Act renewal & Amtrak's FY22 grant proposal
MIPRC is asking Midwestern members of Congress to support the $80 billion passenger rail investment in the proposed American Jobs Plan and strengthen several aspects of federal passenger rail policy and funding when re-authorizing the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, which expires in September.
In a May 14 letter emailed to members and their transportation legislative aides, MIPRC also stated its support for Amtrak’s proposed $5.4 billion grant request for federal fiscal year 2022.
“This is a critical time for the future direction of intercity passenger rail; with the American Jobs Plan jump-starting new funding and FAST Act renewal sustaining it, we have a generational opportunity to secure passenger rail’s future as an integral component of the nation’s multimodal transportation system with steady, dependable fiscal backing,” the letter stated.
“Such funding will pay dividends as states and Amtrak can rely upon it to bring existing infrastructure up to a state of good repair, improve existing corridor services and connect new city pairs as envisioned by the long-standing Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (created collaboratively by Midwestern states), the pending Federal Railroad Administration-led Midwest Rail Plan, and Amtrak’s recently announced ConnectUS proposal.”
Attached to the letter were copies of MIPRC’s latest principles for FAST Act re-authorization and a list of funding-ready state-sponsored projects identified by the States for Passenger Rail Coalition and the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials.
MIPRC is seeking changes to the FAST Act including:
• Dedicated funding for passenger rail development, including annual funding for Amtrak and regional planning, formula funding for state DOT planning, and a robust grant program for state project planning and implementation.
• Strengthening Amtrak and our national passenger rail system, including giving Amtrak the ability to enforce its preference rights, increasing Amtrak transparency, lowering the threshold of requiring state operating support for intercity passenger rail routes from 750 miles to 250 miles, considering whether Amtrak’s National Network should provide operating funding long-term to corridor service initiated by Amtrak, and clarifying that States are not rail carriers if they do not operate a rail service.
• Reauthorization of several successful committees and programs, including States-Amtrak Intercity Passenger Rail Committee (SAIPRC), Next Generation Equipment Committee (NGEC), Operation Lifesaver and the Railway Highway Crossing Program.
For more on MIPRC’s FAST Act principles, please see our previous coverage, here.