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Amtrak Celebrates Record Under Funding Cloud

Brian Kelly
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 ST. LOUIS (KMOX)-As proposed federal budget cuts threaten to reduce service in to and out of St. Louis, Amtrak today honored an area woman for being the system’s record 30 millionth rider in fiscal year 2011.

Rochelle Lathan, who takes the train between Alton and Springfield on a regular basis, was chosen for the honor on September 28, the day Amtrak reached the 30 million passenger mark.

But as Amtrak records record ridership and increasing revenue, the House Transportation Committee is proposing cutting funding for state-supported routes, including those between St. Louis and Kansas City and some between St. Louis and Chicago.

Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper says Amtrak is poised to continue upgrading its service and increasing its popularity, but it must have government assistance, “We can handle the business, we can run the business, but we need the investment to expand. We need the time to make that happen.”

Amtrak Spokesman Mark Magliari says Amtrak is a good investment, “We cover better than 70 cents on the dollar of our operating costs right now,  more than any other public transportation network, locally in this country.”

Carper says America has to decide if a national rail transportation system is in its future, “If it does, then we’re going to work hard on the businesses end, above the rail, to do as well as we can there. We think we’re doing a great job and becoming more efficient, but we need infrastructure investments.”

Carper says investment in Amtrak not only puts people to work on the system, but spurs growth in communities served by the train.

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