DENVER -- Cities nationwide hosted Rally for Trains on Friday in an effort to show opposition to President Donald Trump’s proposed transportation budget cuts.
The proposed budget would cut nearly 13 percent in federal transportation, which would eliminate train service in many parts of the country.
“The new White House budget will eliminate all these trains in the west,” said Jim Souby, the ColoRail Passenger Association president, to passengers waiting on a train at Union Station on Friday. “We’re talking to passengers about trying to save the trains.”
Members of the ColoRail association spent Friday night at Union Station as part of the national effort.
“This service is essential not just to Denver but to the small rural community,” Souby said.
More than 200 cities across 23 states are scheduled to lose all passenger railway service if Congress approves Trump’s budget cuts, which is considered unlikely.
“All those small and rural communities said, ‘Hey, no way,” Souby said. “These trains return $3 for every dollar that we invest in them. They are essential to our economic well-being and our ability to get anywhere.”
Trump’s justification for cutting funding to long-distance trains was said in the proposal.
“Terminating federal funding for long-distance services will allow Amtrak to focus its resources -- and those appropriated by Congress -- on better managing its successful corridor services that provide transportation options within more densely populated regions," according to the proposal.
Most Amtrak riders waiting for the train Friday were unaware of the budget proposal and how it would impact the trains, but when informed, they had strong opinions.
“I depend on this,” one passenger said with her two daughters. “It can’t happen, I’m sorry. I’m going to call Congress and fight for that.”
“It’s important, but it’s not as important as how do we create stability with most of our centralized systems falling apart,” another passenger said.
The ColoRail association said it will be out informing passengers for as long as it will take.
“The critics say who is going to take a train from Chicago to L.A.? The answer is not many, about 5 percent,” Souby said. “These trains serve the communities in between and that’s an argument that’s lost on a lot of people -- except these travelers."
The ColoRail association said the popular Winter Park train would not be impacted by the proposed budget cuts.