Greenville could lose Amtrak service under Trump proposal

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Photo: Flickr Hunter Desportes via Creative Commons

The National Association of Rail Passengers said Greenville would be among 220 cities that could lose rail passenger service if President Donald J. Trump’s initial budget outline is adopted.

President Trump’s proposal eliminates all federal funding for Amtrak’s national network of trains and cuts $499 million from TIGER grants, a program that Greenville and Greenville County has applied to twice in order to expand the Greenlink bus system. Other cities and regions have used TIGER grants to expand passenger rail and transit projects.

The Crescent line that runs from New York City to New Orleans, with stops in Greenville, Spartanburg and Clemson, is one of 15 long-distance rail routes threatened by Trump’s proposal, the association said in a press release. The Palmetto route that serves Charleston and Columbia is also threatened, according to the association. If the national network routes were cut, South Carolina would be one of 23 states without access to passenger trains.

“It’s ironic that President Trump’s first budget proposal undermines the very communities whose economic hardship and sense of isolation from the rest of the country helped propel him into office,” said NARP President Jim Mathews in a press release. “When the president proposed a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, voters expected that would mean more funding for projects like long-distance rail and new subway and light rail construction… this budget does exactly the opposite.”

The number of passengers boarding and detraining Amtrak trains in South Carolina has decreased over the past five years, according to NARP statistics. In 2012, 241,000 passengers got on or off Amtrak trains in South Carolina. In 2016, that number had fallen to 195,800. An additional 606,973 passengers passed through South Carolina, boarding or detraining outside the state.

Amtrak passengers across the Upstate have dropped slightly. In 2014, the Greenville station had 12,078 passengers. In 2016, the number was 11,935. Spartanburg traffic declined with 4,451 passengers in 2014 and 3,777 in 2016. Clemson saw a decline in passengers as well, falling from 4,987 in 2014 to 3,127 in 2016.

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