Media Center

May 14

Deadly Amtrak Crash, Deteriorating Transportation Infrastructure Wake-Up Call to Congress

Transit Union calls for Long-Term Investment in Transportation

Washington, DC – “Our national priorities as set by Congress and the White House are incoherent. What other government would squander its wealth in endless wars while allowing our people to be put at risk by failing, outdated transportation systems?” asks the Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) in the wake of the recent deadly Amtrak accident and a House committee proposal to cut Amtrak funding. 

While early reports say excessive speed was a factor in this tragic accident, the lack of positive train control that would have automatically slowed the engine down and the well-documented poor condition of our nation's rail system is just the latest example of the way in which Congress refuses to adequately fund transportation. 

“Our bridges are crumbling, our transit is failing and rail is becoming more dangerous every day. This is not a question of us not having the money to save our country. We are lavishing the military industrial complex with the resources that could be spent ensuring that our people can travel safely,” says Larry Hanley, ATU international president. 

“Tragically, we can expect to see an increasing number of these terrible accidents unless more is appropriated to repair the tracks, and meet the federally mandated deadline for deployment of positive train control by the end of the year.” 

Similar dangers exist in public transit. That’s why ATU is urging Congress to act now to pass a complete, six-year transportation authorization bill and dedicated tax to bring our rails, roads and bridges up-to-date, and repair, maintain, and expand mass transit in America. 

"Our nation’s transportation network – including mass transit – is in dire need of repair and maintenance,” says Hanley. “The lives already lost should be all the motivation Congress needs to repair, revitalize and ensure safe travel on our national transportation network. 

"Yet, Congress is cutting Amtrak’s budget, and ignoring this month’s deadline for reauthorizing U.S. transit and highway funding. The safety and reliability of public transport erodes with each passing day that Congress neglects the problem. 

“The rails, roads, and transit systems built to serve the personal and economic needs of our urban areas simply cannot support the volume of traffic we have today," says Hanley. "Our nation’s transportation infrastructure is ailing and needs fixing now." 

Just this week there was another fire on Washington, DC’s Metro system following a fire in January that killed one rider and injured others. In March a bridge collapsed outside of Austin, TX, killing one.  

"This tragic Amtrak accident should alert Congress to the need for adequate funding of our transportation infrastructure," Hanley warned. "Their continued intransigence will lead to much greater expense, more lives lost, and national and economic paralysis. It’s time to act before it’s too late.”