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Richmond Train Advocates Say They're Not On Board with Trump's Budget

It would cut Virginia rail service by 50 percent.

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Danny Plaugher of Virginians for High Speed Rail leads a rally for trains and transit funding. With him are Trip Pollard of Southern Environmental Law Center, Mayor Levar Stoney and Jack Berry of Richmond Region Tourism. - SCOTT ELMQUIST
  • Scott Elmquist
  • Danny Plaugher of Virginians for High Speed Rail leads a rally for trains and transit funding. With him are Trip Pollard of Southern Environmental Law Center, Mayor Levar Stoney and Jack Berry of Richmond Region Tourism.

About 100 people rallied for rail at the newly renovated Main Street Station train shed Wednesday evening, lamenting a proposed federal budget that would cut rail service to Richmond by a third.

"I think, at the end of the day, if you want a thriving downtown, a thriving city, a thriving state, you have to invest in rail," said Mayor Levar Stoney.

He said the plan would cut seven trains in Virginia, leading to 700,000 more people on the roads. "Can you imagine being on I-95 with 700,000 more people?" Stoney said.

President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget would also eliminate Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery  grants. Stoney noted that Richmond was the recipient of a $24.9 million TIGER grant for its bus rapid transit project. The Pulse will begin service this October.

"I just don’t understand the priorities of this administration," Stoney said.

Danny Plaugher, executive director of Virginians for High Speed Rail, said the budget would cut Virginia's rail service in half. And it would jettison any plans to extend bus rapid transit in Richmond.

"As you see, I-95 is a little bit slow," said Plaugher. "That's what the federal budget is going to leave us with."

Trip Pollard of the Southern Environmental Law Center said that transportation is the largest source of pollution in Virginia.

"We are not going to be able to address climate change if we can’t get cleaner transportation," he said. "We need more rail, not less. We’re succeeding, and the last thing we need right now is our rail funding cut."

The crowd cheered as a passenger train pulled into the station.


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