This week in Transportation: Battle is joined over Amtrak privatization

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Amtrak supporters have insisted that the company's political standing has been boosted by both President Obama's reelection and recent record ridership numbers. Aiming to counter that argument, Republicans have focused on the approximately $1 billion per year the company receives to subsidize its rail service.

Witnesses scheduled to testify at the hearing Thursday include Amtrak CEO Joe Boardman and Federal Railroad Administration Deputy Administrator Karen Hedlund.

The hearing is the last in a series initiated by outgoing Transportation Committee Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) that has been designed to attack Amtrak's federal funding. The company has been been subsidized by Congress since it was created by Congress in 1971.

Other topics of Mica's hearing series have included the cost of Amtrak's food and beverage concession program and the company's structural reorganization plans.

Elsewhere, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) will release a survey of public transit ridership on Monday. The numbers will be released as Congress prepares to debate a reauthorization of the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIAA) next year.

The PRIIA bill contains funding for Amtrak and other intercity railways.