WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today attended a hearing to consider the nominations of several individuals, including Joseph Ryan Gruters who is nominated to be a director of the Amtrak Board of Directors.
Wicker invited Gruters to join him for a trip on the City of New Orleans route that runs from the Louisiana city to Chicago.
“I want to invite you to join me… in riding this train,” Wicker said. “I think it would be an education to see the amount of people that depend on this [route]. So, what do you say, I meet you in McComb, Mississippi, and we’ll get on the City of New Orleans and we’ll go to Jackson, up to Greenwood, the new stop in Marks, and I’ll jump off at Memphis. Is that something you’d be willing to look at, and look at the service we would provide, and look at the individuals who depend on this service?”
This month, Wicker rode the train from Greenwood to the ribbon cutting of a new flag stop in Marks. Wicker worked with Quitman County, members of the Mississippi congressional delegation, and railroad representatives to remove the roadblocks to the project that now provides 200,000 residents in the seven surrounding counties with access to the popular rail line.
In his other questions to Gruters, Wicker asked the nominee for his perspective on the dismal on-time performance of Amtrak service on routes maintained by rail providers who do not provide service preference to passenger rail trains. Wicker has repeatedly asked nominees about improving on-time performance for passenger rail service.
Wicker also asked Gruters if he would be a willing partner in working to restore passenger rail service to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Other nominees under consideration at today’s hearing included:
- Jennifer L. Homendy, of Virginia, to be a member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB); and
- Heidi R. King, of California, to be administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)