As mayors of communities served by Amtrak’s Sunset Limited, City of New Orleans and Crescent services, we are writing to express deep concern about plans being discussed in Washington to “zero out” funding for these services (“The Bush budget,” Feb. 8).
We believe the proposal advocated in the administration’s budget to force Amtrak into bankruptcy is misguided and will be detrimental to the health and vitality of our communities.
Last year, Amtrak carried nearly 100,000 travelers to and from Mississippi and is a valuable transportation resource for our state. Most of the towns Amtrak serves in the state have few if any other transportation options, and Amtrak fills a critical need for our citizens. Mississippi has very limited mass transit options and losing Amtrak would be a further setback to our efforts to improve mobility in our state.
But Amtrak is much more than simply a transportation option for ordinary Mississippians. Having Amtrak service in our towns is a source of civic pride and is a key part of our economic development.
Virtually every town served by Amtrak in Mississippi is in the process of renovating or has already completed renovations to its train station.
Some of these projects cost the city in excess of $20 million with the train station serving as an anchor to a larger downtown redevelopment project.
For these reasons and many more, we are urging members of the Mississippi congressional delegation to oppose pushing Amtrak into bankruptcy by ending its subsidy and request that they work to secure federal funding to preserve and expand Amtrak service in Mississippi.
Co-Signed by Harvey Johnson