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American Public Transportation Association

 To Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson in Support of Intercity Passenger Rail, Including Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program (RRIF), Financing and Project Delivery

 5/1/2015

The Honorable John Thune
Chairman
Senate Committee on Commerce
Science, and Transportation
560 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

The Honorable Bill Nelson
Ranking Member
Senate Committee on Commerce,
Science, and Transportation
254 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson:

As the committee prepares to consider passenger rail legislation, APTA seeks your leadership in advancing this important transportation priority. APTA commends the House for recently moving in a bi-partisan fashion to advance and pass a bill that aims to address critical intercity passenger rail needs. The House bill could provide a framework for the Senate, APTA and other industry stakeholders to continue this discussion of our national intercity passenger rail
needs.

APTA has recommended a robust, multi-year intercity passenger rail authorization bill to facilitate the development of a high-speed and intercity passenger rail network that would be part of a balanced, multi-modal, and inter-connected national transportation system. Our hope is that your committee will build upon the House proposal by increasing authorization levels for Amtrak capital and operating grants both nationally and in the Northeast Corridor and by adding significant new funding for a comprehensive federal high speed and intercity passenger rail program that supports the connectivity of cities and major commercial centers across the country. We hope the committee can also address other priorities such as reforms to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing program (RRIF), financing and project delivery improvements. 

Ultimately, it will require work beyond the jurisdiction of the committee to establish a dedicated, long-term revenue mechanism for intercity passenger rail projects that does not adversely impact existing federal highway and transit programs. We hope the work of the committee will be a catalyst urging the Senate and, in turn, Congress to work together for a longterm funding and dedicated revenue solution. There are currently 150 rail corridor improvement projects across 32 states that require a strong, reliable federal partner to advance their projects and bring jobs and economic development to the regions they serve.

Our national intercity passenger rail system is a critical component of our public transportation system which is vital to our nation’s economic competiveness in a global marketplace. We hope that the committee will immediately consider high speed and intercity passenger rail legislation. APTA stands ready to work with you to craft a robust federal program.
Sincerely,

Michael P. Melaniphy
President and CEO​
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