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Red State, Blue State Voters Want More – Not Less – Amtrak


November 4, 2013

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Amtrak has long been the whipping boy of congressional right-wingers, who decry federal spending on the nation’s passenger rail line as wasteful.


Some in the Republican Party – like House Transportation Committee Chair John Mica – have even called for its privatization.

But while some in Congress want to put Amtrak and passenger rail out of business, millions of Americans want just the opposite.

As Edward Wytkind, president of the Transportation Trades Department, AFL-CIO, and John Previsich, president of the Sheet Metal Workers union, write in the Des Moines Register: 

While politicians can’t agree on much, Iowans and the majority of Americans surely agree on one thing: They want more Amtrak service, not less … On the heaviest traveled passenger rail corridor in the nation, the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak keeps breaking ridership records. But the untold story is that in a large swath of less-traveled rail corridors in middle America, including Iowa, people want Congress to keep investing in and expanding Amtrak service.

Wytkind and Previsich point to new poll of Iowans that shows that a majority of Hawkeye State residents – Republicans and Democrats alike – support increased investment in Amtrak.

“In Iowa’s 3rd Congressional District that encompasses Des Moines, the message couldn’t have been any clearer. Among Democrats, the [percentage that supports Amtrak] rises to 87 percent, while 64 percent of independents agree and a hefty 59 percent of Republicans agree.”

It’s not just Iowa. Seventy percent of Americans in six states – Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Colorado, Kansas and Missouri – say they want more Amtrak service.

As Avivia Shen at ThinkProgress writes, more Amtrak service in America’s rural communities – outside the rail line’s heavily trafficked Northeast corridor – means more jobs and economic growth:

Rail service can be a lifeline for small towns, bringing economic benefits along with connectivity. An analysis of Amtrak’s Downeaster, which runs through New Hampshire and Maine, found that the route generated more than $15 million in revenue over its first three years, spurred more development near the train, and brought in an influx of new visitors.

The IBEW represents 1,200 Amtrak workers.

Click here to read more.