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Sample letter

Sample letter to write your Congressional representatives:
Please communicate your thoughts to your Senator and congressional representatives regarding why Congress should continue to fund passenger rail to provide a balanced transportation system in America.

Urge them to reject the Bush Administration's "plan" to save Amtrak. The plan shifts costs to the states, which cannot even agree on the time of day.
What would happen, for example, if one or two of the eight states the Southwest Chief travels through (Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and California) decided not to fund the train. Would the train continue? Or not open its doors in that state, as Bush's DOT secretary, Norman Mineta, once explained.
 The Bush plan would be bad news to Americans that enjoy transportation alternatives.

The following is an example you can use in designing your own letter. You can send your letter via e-mail, though regular mail or by fax is considered far more effective.

Here are some contact addresses for Kansas City-area Missouri and Kansas elected officials. Local fax numbers are included. Word- text version  

CITY, STATE, ZIP (Very important)

The Honorable _______________________
U.S. House of Representatives/ U.S. Senate)
Washington DC 20515

Dear (Representative/Senator) ____________________,

Years of inaction by political leaders in Washington D.C. have brought Amtrak to fiscal crisis. Through user fees, trust funds and other general revenue tax funds, this country builds and maintains roadway and airway infrastructures while throwing crumbs to passenger rail transportation.

It is time that our lawmakers become serious about supporting a truly balanced transportation system. Surely the events of September 11 show that America needs a strong national transportation system. Unfortunately, the plan introduced by the Bush Administration, if implemented, would spell the death of intercity passenger rail.

By forcing cash-strapped states to fund long-distance passenger trains, no trains will run. Certainly improvements can be made, but Amtrak has been reformed to death, thanks to steep budget cuts that forced the carrier to discontinue routes during the 1980s and 1990s. By providing skeletal funding, peoplesí rail travel options (out of Kansas City) are limited.

If only one of the eight states that the Southwest Chief runs through, on its journey through Missouri from Chicago to Los Angeles, decides to not fund the service, the train would not run. Then Americans will have fewer transportation choices and be forced to drive on already congested and hazardous roadways or be subject to intrusive security checks at crowded airports.

Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma show how well states work together to run passenger trains. For years, Oklahoma has wanted to extend its Oklahoma City- Fort Worth train north to Kansas City, a needed improvement that would provide Kansas Citians more travel options.  Kansas lawmakers, however, have declined to help fund the trainís extension. This year, Missouri lawmakers, due to a budget crisis, had a hard time funding the Kansas City- St. Louis trains.

The states that the Bush Administration refers to as success models are having troubles. Oregon may discontinue its trains because lawmakers canít come up with enough money to run the service. While states can and should play a role in improving this countryís passenger rail system, the whole system should not rely on the states alone. Interstate commerce is a federal function.

Polls conducted by Gallup and USA Today show the overwhelming majority of Americans (70%) favor continued passenger rail funding. Please listen to your constituents, not the think-tanks that continuously deride Amtrak, which comprises all of 2% of the U.S. DOTís yearly budget. After all, Congress doesnít require money-losing highways to be plowed-up or airports that donít make money to shutdown. Why this hypocritical approach to passenger trains?

Amtrakís reform-minded CEO is making needed changes. Please donít undercut him by voting to withhold needed funding and cheat Americans out of finally having a modern passenger rail system that can contribute to the needs of the 21st Century.



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