[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – With only twelve days until the current transportation bill expires, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the House-Senate transportation bill conference committee, today met with Tom Carper, Chairman of the Board of Amtrak, to discuss critical funding for Illinois passenger rail and other transportation projects.
“With record ridership numbers every year, Amtrak connects riders to schools, businesses, and communities across the state and throughout the region,” said Durbin. “As one of the most important hubs in our nation’s passenger rail network, Illinois is poised to benefit greatly from the passage of a robust federal transportation bill. The bipartisan Senate Transportation bill includes passenger rail provisions that will improve Amtrak’s on-time-performance and help Illinois jump start new service to Rockford-Galena and the Quad Cities. House Republicans should bring this bill to a vote immediately.”
On March 14, the Senate passed a two-year transportation bill by a vote of 74-22 that will create and protect millions of jobs nationwide – 67,800 in Illinois – and prevent crippling cuts to highways and public transit agencies. With time running out on the current transportation bill, Durbin sent a letter last week to Republican Members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation calling on them to demand a House vote on the bipartisan Senate transportation bill. Durbin noted that two Republican House members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation – Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Bob Dold (R-IL) – have voiced their support for the bipartisan Senate passed transportation bill.
Amtrak is a major asset for businesses and employment in communities across Illinois, moving hundreds of riders on 56 trains each day—a total of 4.9 million passengers each year. Earlier this year, Amtrak announced the railroad reached a milestone by carrying over 30 million passengers in one fiscal year. This was the highest ridership total since Amtrak began operations in 1971. In fact, Amtrak has set ridership records for every fiscal year since 2002 with the exception of 2009.