Two Railways Diverged: Amtrak Planning Expansion While Cutting Service

Amtrak is presented with the potential for two futures: In one is a $25 billion expansion to update national intercity rail with contemporary patterns of settlement. In the other is fiscal crisis and continued service cuts.

2 minute read

October 27, 2020, 7:00 AM PDT

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell

Madalyn Mendoza reports on the diverging potential paths for Amtrak, as exemplified by the example of Texas, where the agency recently reduced Texas Eagle daily service from San Antonio to Chicago to three times a week.

That service reduction was made as Amtrak also makes news for a $25 billion plan to expand service around the country. "Amtrak is also hoping to tap into funds from potential national infrastructure bills such as the INVEST Act, which would provide $28.55 billion for Amtrack over five years," reports Mendoza.

Mendoza relays information presented by Ray Lang, Amtrak’s senior director for national state relations, on Amtrak's expansion plans in September, just a few weeks before the cuts to Texas Eagle service were implemented.

A series of Tweets by Politico reporter Sam Mintz shows the maps of Amtrak's planned expansion maps. Both Mintz and Mendoza suggests that Amtrak would fare well under a Biden presidency, in addition to an expected boon to the Gateway Project connecting New Jersey to New York via the Hudson River.

The Texas Eagle service might not be the last service to get cut as Amtrak deals with the fiscal consequences of the pandemic. As reported in a separate article by Pranshu Verma, Amtrak President and CEO William J. Flynn has been lobbying Congress for $4.9 billion in funding to stave off  more cuts (that's $2 billion the rail agency's standard appropriation and $2.8 billion in emergency funding). According to Verma, projected revenue for Amtrak has declined by 53 percent in 2020.

Friday, October 23, 2020 in My San Antonio

Single-family homes in a suburban neighborhood in Florida.

New Florida Law Curbs HOA Power

The legislation seeks to cut down on ‘absurd’ citations for low-level violations.

June 16, 2024 - The Guardian

Three colorful, large beachfront homes, one khaki, one blue, and one yellow, with a small dune in front and flat sand in foreground.

Florida Homeowners 'Nope Out' of Beach Restoration Over Public Access

The U.S. Corps of Engineers and Redington Shores, Florida are at a standstill: The Corps won’t spend public money to restore private beaches, and homeowners are refusing to grant public access to the beaches behind their home in return for federal assistance.

June 7, 2024 - Grist

Multistory apartment building under construction.

New Tennessee Law Allows No-Cost Incentives for Affordable Housing

Local governments in the Volunteer State can now offer developers incentives like increased density, lower parking requirements, and priority permitting for affordable housing projects.

June 10, 2024 - Nooga Today

Green meadow with water running through and trees on either side in Yosemite National Park.

Yosemite Meadow Undergoing Major Restoration

Rangeland recently acquired from private owners is being restored to a more natural state thanks to a purchase by the Trust for Public Land.

1 hour ago - San Francisco Chronicle

Large black SYV driving down city street with blurred background.

GAO to Investigate How Vehicle Design Impacts Safety

A lax set of rules around vehicle size, height, and other factors is partly responsible for the alarming rise in pedestrian deaths in the United States.

2 hours ago - Streetsblog USA

Worker in yellow safety suit holding up orange SLOW sign on road

New Orleans Faces $1 Billion Shortfall for FEMA-Funded Roadwork

After years of delays, cost overruns, and deadline extensions on a FEMA-funded street repair program, New Orleans officials face a massive funding shortfall and accusations of mismanagement.

3 hours ago -

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Planning for Universal Design

Learn the tools for implementing Universal Design in planning regulations.