THE Federal Government is acting today to keep the New Haven Railroad running. We are acting on behalf of:
--The 40,000 commuters who use it daily to get to their jobs.
--The 5 million people for whom the New Haven provides the only available railway service.
Last May I met with the New England Governors at Windsor Locks in Connecticut. High on the agenda was the plight of the New Haven. I pledged the full cooperation of the Federal Government. I directed officials of the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Transportation to remain in close touch with officials of the Railroad and the States of Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.
The problem today is even more urgent. The New Haven now awaits inclusion in the proposed merger of the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroads. But this is still before the courts.
In the meantime, the New Haven is close to financial disaster. Within months, it may not be able to meet its payroll. It needs help now.
To keep the New Haven running until a permanent solution is found, I have authorized the following immediate actions:
1. Secretary Weaver has approved the awarding of an urban mass transit capital grant. It will provide more than $28 million to improve the Railroad's west end commuter service in the next few years. Details of the grant will be developed in response to specific requirements by officials of the Federal Government, the New Haven, and the States of Connecticut and New York. But the purpose of this action is clear--to provide better commuter service between New York City and its northern suburbs.
2. Secretary Boyd will speed action to provide about $500,000 for improvements to the Railroad's right-of-way. This is part of the Department of Transportation's demonstration program for high-speed ground transportation.
3. To assist the New Haven with its cash emergency, the Federal Government is agreeing, subject to court approval, to a plan for immediate debt deferral. In effect, this would make available to the Railroad $1.7 million in cash, funds now earmarked for payment to the Federal Government. Under the proposed agreement, the Federal Government's financial interest will be fully protected. As part of this plan, the Government will not press various disputed claims for interest.
These actions are not the final answers for the New Haven. They do help avert an immediate crisis.
The New Haven's problems are symptomatic of what afflicts much of America's system of urban transportation. Even as we act today, we rededicate ourselves to the ideal of a national transportation network worthy of the people it serves.