Bennett's Amtrak Remarks Confuse Some, Anger Others

Bennett's Amtrak Remarks Confuse Some, Anger Others

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Political observers say a move to derail Utah's Amtrak service, diverting those federal subsidies to support the railroad in areas that have heavier passenger demand, may be sound.

But comments made by U-S Senator Bob Bennett during floor debate left some analysts and opponents of the measure slightly puzzled. Bennett told congressional lawmakers he supports contributing Utah's share of Amtrak's budget to support rail services in New Jersey -- a state he believes needs the service more.

He said if necessary, in Utah we can come up with one bus per week which has enough capacity to handle all of the Amtrak passengers that come through the state.

Stephen Kroes of the Utah Foundation says Bennett is right that the number of passengers coming to Utah is very small, but someone is coming through the state by train is not likely to get off at the border and get back on again in Nevada.

Kroes said he does, however, support federal scrutiny of Amtrak subsidies, particularly since cheaper air fares have made rail transportation less attractive to the average commuter.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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