Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – Greg Regan, president of the 33-union Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO (TTD), today joined President Joe Biden, labor union leaders, and frontline workers to mark Amtrak’s 50th anniversary, and set a bold, new vision for passenger rail in America. Together, labor leaders, Amtrak’s workers and passengers, and President Biden are calling for passage of the American Jobs Plan, which contains $80 billion in new resources for Amtrak – funding that would expand service and secure the carrier’s future for generations to come.
“It is an honor to stand with Amtrak’s number-one fan, President Biden, and my union sisters and brothers to mark this milestone in American and transportation history,” Regan said. “For 50 years, Amtrak’s national network has connected people and communities across our country, all while creating good jobs. Now is the time to re-invest in this system, and transform Amtrak into a passenger rail system that rivals those found around the world.”
Congress created Amtrak in 1971 to provide reliable and efficient passenger rail service to communities and people across this country. Over the last half-century, Amtrak — powered by a dedicated, unionized workforce — has become an endearing staple in American culture, creating good jobs and acting as a transportation lifeline for millions.
Amtrak’s national network acts as a link to city centers, educational, and economic opportunities for dozens of small, midsize, and rural communities across the country, and in many cases, is the only public transportation option available. In the northeast, the busiest rail corridor in the country, Amtrak contributes significantly to the national economy, making 260 million passenger trips between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, DC annually.
Despite its successes, Amtrak has never received adequate funding from Congress, forcing the carrier to rely on outdated infrastructure which, for far too long, has severely limited what the carrier could be capable of. Economic calamity caused by the COVID-19 pandemic further harmed Amtrak, which saw an 80 percent decrease in ridership and significant but temporary worker layoffs across the system.
Both transportation labor and President Biden see Amtrak as a crucial component in rebuilding the American middle class and securing America’s status as an economic and transportation superpower. Dedicated Amtrak funding in the American Jobs Plan will give the carrier the transformative resources it needs to repair and modernize existing infrastructure, build new routes, and expand service on a massive scale.
“We need to think about what Amtrak will look like – what it could be – in 50 and 100 years from now. As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the future, building out this carrier and expanding services will be key to the short- and long-term success of America,” Regan said. “By making massive investments in Amtrak now, we can create thousands of good, union jobs, expand greener transportation services for millions of Americans, and create a rail system that is the heartbeat of passenger transportation in America. The best gift we can offer Amtrak, and all those who rely on this service, is to secure $80 billion in new funding by passing President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.”