Photo Courtesy of Shealah Craighead
Sen. Gillibrand said, ““The president’s budget cuts would only further delay long overdue repairs to make our transit systems more safe and reliable.”
By Forum Staff
U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand (both D-N.Y.) last Thursday slammed President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts to critical transportation programs that help fund regional mass transit systems throughout New York that millions of commuters rely on each day. The senators especially pointed to the administration’s proposed cuts to Amtrak as an example of “doubling down on dilapidation” at exactly the moment when more is urgently needed to repair and modernize our aging transit infrastructure.
According to the lawmakers, Trump’s proposed budget slashes $760 million in federal funds for Amtrak, virtually eliminates the New Starts program—which helps fund the new Gateway Tunnel Program—and cuts the Highway Trust Fund, which is the primary source of funding for States and the MTA to receive federal dollars for repairs, by $96 billion. Schumer and Gillibrand said that after decades of GOP budget cuts and disinvestment in transit infrastructure, Trump’s proposed cuts will only mean further dilapidation and disrepair for New York’s transit systems including the Long Island Rail Road, Metro North, subway and Amtrak.
“President Trump’s campaign promises on infrastructure are crumbling faster than our roads, railways and bridges,” Schumer said. “The president’s proposal to slash American infrastructure investments is a job-killing, 180-degree turn away from his repeated promise of a trillion dollar infrastructure plan. The fuzzy math and sleight of hand can’t hide the fact that the president’s $200 billion plan is more than wiped out by other cuts to key infrastructure programs.”
The senators added that already, the lack of adequate investment in Amtrak has led to an over $38 billion state-of-good-repair backlog and has led to a situation where Amtrak is currently operating on some bridges built between 1890-1910, tunnels built between 1900-1910 and signaling systems dating back to 1930. Maintenance issues are also made worse by a lack of redundant capacity in and out of Penn Station. This means that when signal issues or derailments occur, the delays can last for days because there is only one way in and out of Penn Station.
In its current state, service disruptions on the Northeast Corridor alone cost the national economy over $500 million per year and a loss of transit service on the Corridor for a single day would cost the US $100 million.
“New York City is a major transportation hub that services hundreds of thousands of commuters through Penn Station, Amtrak, LIRR and regional mass transit,” Gillibrand said. “The president’s budget cuts would only further delay long overdue repairs to make our transit systems more safe and reliable. I will do everything I can to fight these harmful cuts and protect the funding that helps support our transit systems.”
Schumer added, “Despite the many challenges we are facing at Penn Station, President Trump has just proposed to make it worse by slashing billions in transportation funds from Amtrak and New Starts and the Trust Fund needed to get our mass transit system back on track. Democrats sent President Trump a comprehensive infrastructure plan nearly six months ago to rebuild our nation’s roads, bridges, schools, and expand rural broadband, but it’s apparently fallen on deaf ears.”