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Trump’s proposed transit cuts to worsen Penn crisis, senators say

Amtrak crews work on the track at Penn

Amtrak crews work on the track at Penn Station. Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand on Thursday, May 25, 2017, chided President Donald Trump over his proposal to slash Amtrak funding. Photo Credit: Amtrak

New York’s two senators are criticizing President Donald Trump’s proposed transportation spending cuts, which they say will be worse than the commuting crisis at Penn Station.

In a joint statement, Democratic Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said Trump’s proposal to slash funding for Amtrak, which owns and operates Penn, and to eliminate a grant program they said was critical to several planned infrastructure improvements in and around the station, amounts to a “doubling down on dilapidation.”

“Despite the many challenges we are facing at Penn Station, President Trump has just proposed to make it worse,” Schumer said. “President Trump’s campaign promises on infrastructure are crumbling faster than our roads, railways and bridges.”

Trump’s budget includes $760 million in cuts to Amtrak, most of that targeting the intercity rail provider’s long-distance routes. It also does away with the New Starts grant program, which Amtrak was counting on to get its $23 billion Gateway project off the ground.

The plan would build a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River leading into and out of Penn, and include other important upgrades in and around the western Manhattan transit hub.

“New York City is a major transportation hub that services hundreds of thousands of commuters through Penn Station, Amtrak, LIRR and regional mass transit,” Gillibrand said. “The President’s budget cuts would only further delay long overdue repairs to make our transit systems more safe and reliable. I will do everything I can to fight these harmful cuts and protect the funding that helps support our transit systems.”

The budget proposal came just as Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and New York’s bipartisan congressional delegation called on Trump to intervene in the many challenges facing Penn, including by increasing transportation funding and supporting Gateway.

A slew of major service disruptions originating at Penn Station, the LIRR’s only Manhattan terminal, has led to Amtrak launching a major infrastructure renewal project this summer that will disrupt LIRR rush-hour service from July 4 to Labor Day.

The recent Penn problems have also sparked several calls, including by Cuomo, for Amtrak to relinquish control of the station, used by more than 600,000 travelers daily.

Trump’s administration has heralded the president’s proposal as a “taxpayer first budget” that saves billions through “fiscally conservative principles, all the while delivering on President Trump’s campaign promise not to cut Social Security retirement or Medicare.”

“The budget’s combination of regulatory, tax, and welfare reforms will provide opportunities for economic growth and creation,” the White House said in a statement.


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