(WASHINGTON, D.C.) — Congressman Jamie Raskin (D-MD) today joined Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) in sending a letter to the House Appropriations Committee requesting $26 million in the next coronavirus bill to ensure the continued operations of Union Station in the District of Columbia. The letter was also signed by Representatives C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Donald S. Beyer, Jr. (D-VA), Anthony G. Brown (D-MD), John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), David Trone (D-MD), and Jennifer Wexton (D-VA).
Union Station is owned by the federal government and is the second busiest transportation station in the country, serving more than 42 million passengers each year before the coronavirus.
The station’s primary revenue sources are its restaurants, shops and parking facility, all of which have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus.
“Union Station is a historic facility,” Norton said, “having been built in 1907 and serving millions of people today, not only in the National Capital Region but many millions more who travel throughout the Northeast Corridor. Our conversations with the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation, the entity authorized by Congress to operate the station, and the Federal Railroad Administration, which has jurisdiction over the station, reinforced the importance of the $26 million we are requesting to ensure the continued operations of Union Station for the next six months.”
As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Norton has worked to improve Union Station for years, successfully adding a bus depot servicing several bus lines and bike lanes at Union Station.
The letter follows.
April 21, 2020
The Honorable Nita M. Lowey The Honorable Kay Granger
Chairwoman Ranking Member
House Committee on Appropriations. House Committee on Appropriations
H-307 The Capitol H-307 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
The Honorable David E. Price The Honorable Mario Diaz-Balart
Chairman Ranking Member
Transportation, and Housing Transportation and Housing
and Urban Development, and Urban Development,
and Related Agencies and Related Agencies
2358-A Rayburn House Office Building 2358-A Rayburn House Office Building
Dear Chairs Lowey and Price and Ranking Members Granger and Diaz-Balart:
We write to request that you provide $26 million in the next coronavirus response bill to ensure the continued operations of Union Station in the nation’s capital. As you know, Union Station is a multimodal transportation hub that serves not only the District of Columbia and the national capital region, but also is a critical asset for the entire Northeast Corridor. Union Station, which is owned by the federal government, is the second busiest transportation station in the country, serving, before the coronavirus, more than 42 million passengers and visitors each year.
Union Station is operated as a public-private partnership, and its operations and maintenance are funded by revenue from its restaurants and shops and parking facility. These sources of revenue have been significantly impacted by the coronavirus. Although the station must remain open to essential transportation services, such as Amtrak Metro and intercity buses, the restaurants and shops are closed, and the parking facility is barely used.
In light of this severe reduction in revenue and the potential damage the shortfall may cause to the continued operations of this more than century-old station, the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation (USRC), the entity authorized by Congress to operate and maintain the station, discussed with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), the agency with jurisdiction over Union Station, the need for $26 million to ensure the continued operations of Union Station. This figure is based on the six-month average cost to operate and maintain the station. While we all hope that the coronavirus crisis is over long before six months, the reality is that the crisis could continue for a long time. As early as next month, Union Station could experience a revenue shortfall that would impede the operations and maintenance of the station, negatively impacting passenger services well beyond the end of this crisis.
In recent conversations with FRA, FRA indicated it would require both funding and the authority to provide resources to USRC. Therefore, we are requesting that you include the following language in the next coronavirus response bill.
To enable the Secretary of Transportation to make grants to the Union Station Redevelopment Corporation pursuant to sections 6901 through 6910 of title 40, $26,000,000, to remain available until expended, in support of operations, maintenance, capital projects, related costs and obligations for Union Station in Washington D.C., to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus: Provided, That such amount is designated by the Congress as being for an emergency requirement pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A)(i) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985.
This language will ensure that FRA has both the funding and the authority to provide assistance to USRC to continue critical operations and maintenance of Union Station. Thank you for your consideration of this important matter.