Cantwell to Amtrak Director Nominees: “We’re Not Messing Around Here When It Comes to the Reestablishing (of) These Services”

In Transportation Committee hearing, Cantwell presses nominees on restoring full passenger rail service between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, during a Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee hearing to consider nominees for Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) pressed the nominees on their plans to fully reestablish and staff the routes connecting Washington state businesses and travelers to British Columbia – routes that have been suspended since May 2020.

“We had a pandemic and we had disruption of services in key areas across the West,” Sen. Cantwell said. “So I think what we need, what I need, before I can support any of the nominees before us today is a commitment for us to come up with a workforce strategy and plan that allows us to continue. We cannot simply say we don't have enough conductors, we don't have enough baggage handlers, we don't have enough this… The public believes they survived the pandemic so now they want to see the services restored.

“And we all have workforce issues. Everybody in America has workforce issues. But what I didn't hear enough of is, what does Amtrak believe they need to do about that, to get the services reestablished that we need in America?” Sen. Cantwell continued. “We're not messing around here. We're not messing around here when it comes to the reestablishing (of) these services.”

Sen. Cantwell serves as chair of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation. The committee heard from five nominees for Director of the Amtrak Board of Directors during today’s hearing: David Michael Capozzi, Anthony Rosario Coscia, Christopher Koos, Samuel E. Lathem and Robin Lee Wiessmann.

Through the pandemic, Sen. Cantwell has been a champion of the nation’s freight network. Last year, the committee under her leadership advanced a bipartisan $78 billion transportation funding bill that included $25 billion for passenger rail and Amtrak grants.

Last week, Amtrak announced it would resume its Cascades passenger train service between Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. on Sept. 26. Amtrak will start by offering one daily roundtrip, with plans to add a second trip later as the corporation hires additional staff.