Where’s Amtrak Joe When You Need Him? Mass Transit Gets the Shaft

January 16, 2009 12:04 p.m.

I’m starting to dig into the differences between House transportation panel chairman Jim Oberstar’s $85 billion proposal for infrastructure funding in the stimulus bill (available for download on the right-hand side of the committee page) and the actual final product, released yesterday.

David Alpert at Greater Greater Washington has a chart that tells the tale well. But my first question is: Where did you go, Amtrak Joe?

When the perennially cash-poor train system got a $15 billion authorization signed by George Bush last fall, it represented a big win for Acela-loving Vice President-elect Biden. Now, however, it would seem that Biden’s administration has given mass transit the short end of the stick.

Oberstar’s proposed spending on intercity passenger rail was $3.4 billion, in addition to $1.5 billion for Amtrak. The stimulus bill released yesterday included $1.1 billion for both combined.

All those who think the stimulus should put mass transit and highways on a more equal footing — represent, Northeast Corridor riders! — should check out Transportation for America’s petition on the issue. Their in-depth analysis of the gaps between Oberstar’s ideas and yesterday’s reality can be found here.

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