September 12, 2008

Northwest Delegates Press For Amtrak's Return

Crapo, Simpson, Wyden head letters to transportation committee chairs

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo is organizing a new Northwest Congressional Delegation effort to return Amtrak passenger rail service to Idaho and neighboring states. Crapo collected signatures on bipartisan letters to the chairmen of the Senate and House committees with jurisdiction over transportation issues, asking them to support provisions to evaluate the return of Amtrak rail service to the western states of Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

"The number of people riding Amtrak increased 13.9% in July and 10.5% in August from a year earlier, as high gas prices caused more commuters to rely on intercity rail," wrote the group. "We believe that there is a substantial interest in reinstating Amtrak's Pioneer Route in our states and we are asking that you support this study as a first step."

Crapo was joined in signing the letter by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Congressmen Earl Blumenauer (D-Oregon) and Greg Walden (R-Oregon).

The group sent letters today to Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and Ranking Member Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) on the Senate Committee of Commerce, Science and Transportation; and Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minnesota) and Ranking Member John Mica (R-Florida) on the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure. Both the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives have passed legislation funding Amtrak, but only the Senate version contained study provisions regarding the Pioneer route inserted by Crapo.

Amtrak's Pioneer service to the western states of Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming was discontinued in 1997. "For many rural Americans, this route represented the only major intercity transportation link to the rest of the country," the group wrote.