Campaign Promises

Departments -> Transportation -> Rail Service

Rail ServiceGrade
TR-9 The Promise: "Will "support development of high-speed rail networks across the country"."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Strengthening America's Transportation Infrastructure" dated 10/09/08.
Status:The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) defines "high speed" as the ability for a train to travel 90 mph or faster.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, signed into law 02/17/09, provided an initial $8 billion, to be spent over two years, and an addition $1 billion per year over the next five years toward the accomplishment of this campaign promise.

During his 01/10 State of the Union address, President Obama stated that "There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest train."

The FY2010 transporation budget appropriation passed on 07/17/09 saw a surprising increase for high-speed rail from the planned $1B to $4B, despite Senate attempts to peel back $3B and transfer that amount to the Highway Trust Fund.

For FY2012, President Obama's budget proposal included $53B over six years for "high-speed rail and other passenger rail programs as part of an integrated national strategy."

President Obama showcased high-speed rail in Tampa on 01/28/10, launching the building of a high-speed rail link between Tampa and Orlando. However, the Governor of Florida (as well as those of Ohio and Wisconsin) adopted the position that Florida would not accept federal funding for any high-speed rail projects.

The $33B California high speed rail project between Sacramento and San Diego is not on track. By end-CY2016, only 160 of the originally planned 703 miles was under construction between Merced and Bakersfield, California. These points are 131 miles from San Francisco and 113 miles from Los Angeles respectively, requiring eventual users to either drive or use rental cars to get to the embarkation point or from the debarkation point to destination.

By end-CY2016, the Texas Central Railway, to be built from Houston to Dallas with speeds up to 205 mph, was expected to be constructed between CY2020 and CY2026.

The above are just examples. There are also plans for higher-speed rail and high-speed rail in the Midwest, New England, Pennsylvania, the Pacific Northwest, Colorado, New Mexico and the Southwestern United States and other locations.

This promise was fulfilled.
TR-10 The Promise: "...will continue to fight for Amtrak funding and reform so that individuals, families and businesses throughout the country have safe and reliable transportation options."
When/Where: Obama-Biden Plan: "Strengthening America's Transportation Infrastructure" dated 10/09/08.
Status:The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 authorized Amtrak through FY2013, later reauthorized through FY2020 under the FAST Act (H.R. 22). The original PRIIA authorized the appropriation of about $3B in operating funds and $5.3B in capital funding not including debt service.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 provided an additional $1.3B to supplement Amtrak's capital program through 02/11 as part of a $9.5B investment in passenger trains.

Under the PRIIA funding plan, Amtrak's total funding was to go up incrementally from $1.8B in FY2010 to $1.9B in FY2011, $2.1B in FY2012 and $2.2B in FY2013. In reality, the following represents actual federal outlays for AMTRAK's operating and operating and capital expenses for the period FY2010 to FY2016:
FY2010 - $1.565B
FY2011 - $1.483B
FY2012 - $1.418B
FY2013 - $1.334B
FY2014 - $1.390B
FY2015 - $1.390B
FY2016 - $1.450B
FY2017 - $1.500B

Federal funds for AMTRAK steadily declined from President Obama's first budget submission for FY2010.

The PRIIA also required Amtrak to address "reform initiatives" in each of its five-year plans, to be submitted by the first day of the fiscal year or 60 days after the enactment of an appropriations Act, whichever is later.

Clearly, Amtrak funding under the Obama Administration did not keep pace with requirements and was considerably less than the funding levels authorized under the PRIIA.

This promise was not fulfilled.