President Trump's Budget Outline

March 30, 2017

The Trump Administration released its FY2018 budget outline last week.  It closely mirrors the positions of the Heritage Foundation, which isn’t surprising. Transportation Secretary Chao (pictured right) was a Distinguished Fellow at the foundation prior to accepting her role at the DOT.

Most agree that the budget proposal won’t be adopted, but it is a disturbing policy statement.  In brief, the Trump Administration places little value on non-automotive transportation.  If you want to walk, ride a bus or take the train you are out of luck.

The Administration is proposing to eliminate all funding for passenger trains in the Midwest.

  • Amtrak National Network funding would be zeroed out.  That means all routes over 750 miles would be terminated and the States’ cost for routes under 750 miles would skyrocket.  (Don’t believe it when the administration says that Amtrak could focus on the NE Corridor and state supported routes.)
  • The New Starts and Core Capacity programs, which fund transit expansions, would not accept any new projects.
  • The innovative CRISI program, which could fund high-speed rail, would be zeroed out.
  • The State of Good Repair program, which could fund desperately needed coaches, locomotives and bridge repairs for Amtrak and Metra would also be zeroed out.

How should the advocacy community respond? Loudly!

Transportation policy impacts everything from our health to the strength of our communities and businesses.  We need to insist that the Trump Administration increase investment in transportation that allows us to travel more often, more actively and more affordable.

The process has begun in Washington. Representatives Seth Moulton, Elizabeth Esty and Louise Slaughter are leading a Congressional sign-on letter to the appropriators regarding Amtrak and Transportation for America is leading a similar letter regarding transit programs.  If your organization would like to add its name to either letter, please send us an email and we’ll get you pointed to the right people.


Rick Harnish
Executive Director

Last Week at MHSRA:

There’s still time to sign up for our Annual Meeting this Saturday! Register Here

Articles We Enjoyed:

Trump’s Skinny Budget Would Starve Chicago Transit, City of New Orleans Train
"I think the intent is clear in this proposal. If you drive, you deserve federal funds. If you don't drive, you don't deserve federal funds," said Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association

Trump’s budget plan would impact Indiana Amtrak services
“President Trump’s proposed budget would hurt Indiana’s Amtrak services, including the two lines that stop in Waterloo.”

Proposed Federal Budget Cuts Could Stop Caltrain Electrification In Its Tracks
“The decision also puts California’s planned high-speed rail network linking San Francisco to Los Angeles at risk.”

Trump Proposes Cutting Amtrak In Ohio
“All seven of the Amtrak stations in the state would lose their trains and end intercity train service.”

U.S. Travel Industry Fears a ‘Lost Decade’ Under Trump
“A steady drumbeat of news and policy proclamations seemed likely to damage America’s $250 billion travel industry and its roughly 15 million U.S. employees.”

Brightline Bill May Die in House
“A controversial proposal intended to slow a planned private passenger-rail service linking Orlando and Miami might have been derailed in the House.”

Upcoming Events:

2017 MHSRA Annual Meeting

We have an exciting agenda scheduled that will include discussions on Brightline, a Midwest passenger rail update, the importance of frequent service, and more.

When: Saturday April 1, 2017 - 9:00am to 3:00pm (Check in will start at 8:30am)

Where: Maggiano's Little Italy, 516 N. Clark St., Chicago, IL 60654

Cost: Single Ticket: $60.00
    Student Ticket: $20.00
    *Cost includes lunch

Register Here

Speakers Include:

  • Derrick James, Director of Government Affairs, Amtrak

  • Tim Hoeffner, Director - Office of Rail, Michigan Department of Transportation

  • Katie England, Director of Multimodal Planning & Programs, Indiana Department of Transportation

  • Mark Walbrun, Vice President, Practice Leader - Rail & Transit, US East, Mott MacDonald
  • Eugene Skoropowski, Former Senior Vice President o Passenger Rail Development, All Aboard Florida


The 58th Transportation Research Forum - Annual Conference

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association is excited to be part of an important national conference – the 58th Transportation Research Forum, at the University of Illinois – Chicago campus on April 20 – 21. This is a great opportunity to deepen your understanding of the latest policy issues surrounding rail, air and highway travel and network with national experts.

The event includes a Friday Awards Luncheon with keynote Samuel K. Skinner, former US Transportation Secretary, at which our Association will be represented. There are free Saturday morning tours, including Union & Ogilvie stations and CTA rapid-transit plans. To learn more or register, click here.

Questions?  Email Dana Yanocha at