By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON – U.S. President Joe Biden plans to nominate five people to serve on the Amtrak board as the U.S. passenger railroad is making an aggressive push to expand service and improve key infrastructure, an official told Reuters on Friday.
Congress in November approved $22 billion for Amtrak as part of a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill. Last month, the Biden administration asked Congress for $3 billion in annual funding for Amtrak for the 2023 budget year, up from $2.33 billion in prior annual funding.
Amtrak, which would get $7.4 billion in total for 2023, including the infrastructure bill funding, wants to expand dramatically across the United States and add up to 39 corridor routes and up to 166 cities by 2035.
Biden plans to renominate board chair Anthony Coscia, an Amtrak director since 2010 and a prior chair of the an Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the official said.
The president also plans to nominate David Capozzi, a retired federal senior executive and former national advocacy director for the Paralyzed Veterans of America; Normal, Illinois, Mayor Christopher Koos; Delaware State AFL-CIO President Samuel Lathem who is a former Chrysler autoworker; and Robin Wiessmann, executive director and chief executive of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.
Biden commuted between his home state of Delaware and Washington for decades when he was in the Senate and getting the nickname “Amtrak Joe” in the process.
The Biden administration sees expanding public transit and rail service a key part of its climate and traffic congestion reduction plans.
The 10-member Amtrak board includes Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg, Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner and eight appointees. Biden is making the five Democratic selections for the board, while it is not clear whom Senate Republicans will seek for the board.
(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Marguerita Choy)