Havre Daily News - News you can use

By Tim Leeds 

Tester inserts Amtrak ticket agents in appropriations bill


September 20, 2019

Montana’s senior senator said Thursday he inserted language in a appropriations bill to benefit Montana, including language and funding to require Amtrak to bring ticket agents back to the Havre and Shelby stations.

The language directing Amtrak to do so notes that ticket agents are critical for rural stations that may not have broadband internet access, his office said.

“In a rural state like Montana, our airports, rail, and highway systems serve as vital links for our economy,” Tester said in a press release Thursday. “If we don’t keep investing in those systems, we’ll never see the dividends. This bill puts gas in the tank so we can continue building up our airports, shoring up our rail system along the Hi-Line, and giving our farmers and ranchers the tools to get products to market—keeping the engines of our economy humming.”

The release said Tester, a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee that writes the 12 bills that fund the federal government each year, secured millions for Montana’s transportation infrastructure priorities as part of the bipartisan 2020 Transportation and Housing Appropriations bill. The legislation includes a large boost in funding for Amtrak, as well as $3.8 billion for Airport Improvement Program grants.

One of his additions was to require Amtrak to restore ticket agents to stations that average at least 25 passengers a day from which it eliminated ticket agents in 2018.

He also helped increase Amtrak’s general funding to $2 billion, up $58.4 million from last year, which will keep long-distance routes including the Empire Builder that runs along Montana’s Hi-Line operating.

Other Montana provisions Tester successfully included bill are:


•$3.8 billion for Airport Improvement Program grants

•$10 million to maintain funding for the Small Community Air Service Development Program  

•$5 million to address pilot and aviation maintenance workforce shortages

General Infrastructure

•$1 billion for the BUILD grant program

•Fully funds University Transportation Centers (UTCs), including Montana State University’s consortium of UTCs on improving rural mobility

Electronic Logging Devices

•Exempts livestock haulers from ELD hours of service requirements through FY20


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