While Bush has threaten to veto the Amtrak spending bill that will provide nearly $15 billion over 5 years for the system, that threat is no longer an issue as House Resolution 6003 passed the floor 311-104. Some of the funding would go towards state matching funds so that states can implement their own inter-city rail service.
Besides the $14.9 billion provided for Amtrak and intercity rail, an amendment to the bill would authorize $1.5 billion for Washington's Metro transit system over the next 10 years.
Unlike the Senate version, the House bill includes a requirement for the Department of Transportation to seek proposals from private companies to create a high-speed service that would take travelers from Washington to New York in two hours or less. However, it is speculated that while it's possible it's more likely that Amtrak look into new ways of funding improvements on the business line in the United States.
With record fuel prices comes record ridership. In 2007, 25.8 million passengers took Amtrak for a ride. The railroad expects ridership to approach 28 million this year, Amtrak spokesperson Cliff Black said. May was the biggest month in Amtrak's 37-year history, with total ridership up 12 percent over last year and ticket revenue up 16 percent over last year. Black said Amtrak's marketing research indicates that about half the increase can be attributed to gas prices.
With $15 billion collected for the future operating costs of Amtrak, all that needs to be collected is $300 billion to improve the infrastructure so that service can once again be world class. Ridership on airlines and falling and raising on Amtrak. It's about time we fund Amtrak so that it can once again be the successful service that it was meant to be.