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Illinois Rail and Transit Investment Letter FY2016

March 23, 2015

The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart               The Honorable David Price
Chairman                                                      Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Transportation                 Subcommittee on Transportation
Housing and Urban Development                Housing and Urban Development
Committee on Appropriations                     Committee on Appropriations
Washington, DC  20515                              Washington, DC  20515

Dear Chairman Diaz-Balart and Ranking Member Price:

Given the impact of passenger rail and transit to Illinois, we the undersigned members of the Illinois Congressional delegation write to request your support for vitally important transit and passenger rail investments by fully funding mass transit, Amtrak and Intercity Rail Capital Assistance Programs in the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. 

National passenger rail and transit systems are part of our national transportation network that are critical for competing in the 21st century economy, generating jobs and fostering urban and rural community growth. The importance of passenger rail and transit to the state of Illinois and the region generally cannot be overstated.

In Illinois, in 2014, nearly 5 million riders rode Amtrak ‘s 56 daily trains and corridor services that include:

  • The Hiawatha Service (seven-times-daily, Chicago-Milwaukee)
  • The Illinois Zephyr and Carl Sandburg (twice-daily, Chicago-Galesburg-Quincy)
  • The Lincoln Service (four-times-daily, Chicago-Springfield-St. Louis)
  • The Illini and Saluki (twice-daily, Chicago-Champaign-Carbondale)
  • The Hoosier State (four-times-weekly Chicago-Indianapolis)
  • The Wolverines (three-times-daily, Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac)
  • The Blue Water (daily, Chicago-East Lansing-Port Huron)
  • The Pere Marquette (daily, Chicago-Grand Rapids)

Hundreds of thousands of Illinois college students, from the nearly a dozen campuses across the state account for as much as 30 percent of the passengers on Amtrak.  Notably, approximately 40 percent of the Illinois State University’s 20,000 students are a two-hour train ride from Normal to their homes around Chicago.  

Illinois Metra trains move more than 300,000 riders every weekday ranking second only to New York City’s Long Island railroad.  Today in Chicago, transit and rail as a whole generate an estimated $12 billion in annual economic benefits and 120,000 jobs to the region.  The five largest transit agencies, Champaign, Chicago, Peoria, Rock Island and St. Louis provide more than 2 million boardings per year.  Transit corridors in Illinois contributes between 5- 20% to property values in the region.

Finally, investing in transit and passenger rail programs creates manufacturing jobs in Illinois, as well as the entire United States.   Illinois is home to 219 of the manufacturers scattered across the state in urban and rural communities as noted in a recent report by the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Blue Green Alliance, Passenger Rail & Transit Rail Manufacturing in the U.S.  Nationwide the report found more than 750 companies in at least 39 states manufacture components for passenger rail and transit rail today.

Without robust federal funding of transit and passenger rail in the FY 2016 THUD appropriations bill, Illinois transportation systems will be subject to deteriorating roadbeds and equipment, bad on-time performance, increased traffic congestion, loss of ridership and American jobs.

For all of these reasons, we urge your support in fully funding for mass transit, Amtrak and Intercity Rail Capital Assistance Programs in the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (T-HUD) Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2016. We look forward to continuing to work with you to expand and improve access to public transit and passenger rail not only in Illinois but in communities throughout the nation.


U.S. Representative Mike Quigley

U.S. Representative Robert J. Dold

U.S. Representative Danny K. Davis

U.S. Representative Bill Foster

U.S. Representative Daniel Lipinski

U.S. Representative Tammy Duckworth

U.S. Representative Janice D. Schakowsky

U.S. Representative Cheri Bustos

U.S. Representative Robin L. Kelly

U.S. Representative Bobby Rush

U.S. Representative Luis V. Gutierrez