Paso Robles included on Amtrak 'hit list'

Proposed federal budget cuts could stop service to city

PASO ROBLES — According to Xenophon Strategies, a communications firms headquartered in Washington D.C. that specializes in both public relations and affairs, Paso Robles is one of the hundreds of ‘hit list’ cities across the country expected to be affected by the defunding of Amtrak services included in the Trump administration’s proposed transportation budget.

The proposed budget would slash federal aid to the nation’s rail infrastructure by cutting funding for Amtrak’s long-distance service and limiting funds for building new rail lines. President Trump’s proposal of $16.2 billion for transportation spending marks a 13 percent reduction in spending compared with fiscal year 2017. That would include a $630 million cut from subsidies for long-distance Amtrak lines and $928 million in cuts for construction grants.

Paso Robles City Council member Fred Strong, who is also a current chairman and spokesperson for multiple local transit and transportation boards, dismissed the proposal.

“Hundreds of thousands of people depend on this service,” Strong said. “We have people regularly commuting from here to L.A. In fact, the service carries about 2.3 million passengers per year. If the service shut down roads would fail quicker. Highway maintenance and development is dependent on fuel tax. Based on the (current) value of the U.S. dollar though, not much could be produced. Not to mention, most cars today are either very fuel efficient or electric, meaning the money paid in gas doesn’t compensate for road maintenance. We would need a whole new system to fund roads.”

Rail services serve as a gateway to the Central Coast, especially in regard to tourism, Strong said. If the proposal were to pass, all remaining Paso Robles transit and transportation services would need to completely recalculate their operations, he added.

“Operations would need to figure out how many trains could operate at 100 percent under incoming funds while simultaneously supporting the high numbers of commuters,” Strong said. “To my best knowledge no one is in favor of this proposal. Therefore, the number one best thing for community members to do is contact their congressman or federal rail administrator. Together they can work to take away the proposal’s potential ability to remove this service.”

For any questions contact Councilman Fred Strong at [email protected]


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