Legislation to bring Amtrak under direct government control has been introduced by Rep. John McFall (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee.
Informed sources said the McFail bill comes closest to the Carter administration's own thinking on the future of Amtrak, the National Rail Passenger Corp. set up at the start of this decade to run intercity passenger trains.
The McFall bill was referred to the House Commerce Committee, which has scheduled hearings on Amtrak later this month. The measure would:
Restructure the board of directors from one composed of government, railroad and consumer interests to just three persons - the Secretaries of Transportation and Treasury and a representative of common stockholders (railroads who transferred passenger operations to the company).
Eliminate from Amtrak's charter its goal to become a "for-profit corporation."
Establish a timetable under which a Department of Transporation report on future Amtrak routes would be followed by public hearings and congressional approval.
Authorize federal subsidies of $510 million for each of the next two fiscal years to underwrite losses and administrative expenses, plus $100 million in each year for capital outlays.
Put a ceiling on Amtrak salaries to relate them to government positions rather than private industry; the salary for Amtrak President Paul II. Reistrup would be limited to $66,000 (compared with $85,000 today) and other top officials would have a ceiling of $57,500.
McFall said his proposal would "recognize the obvious, that is, that Amtrak is not a for-profit corporation." A change in the board of directors "would reflect Amtrack's funding, since nearly two-thirds . . . comes from the federal government," he added.
The California legislator's bill differs sharply from others being considered in Congress. Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La.), chairman of the Finance Committee and the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, has proposed a bill that provides $550 million in operating subsidies and $200 million for capital outlays in fiscal 1979. Long's bill also includes provisions for acting on the DOT Amtack route study, an initial summary of which is due May 1, but would not resructure Amtrack.
House Commerce Committee Chairman Harley O. Staggers (D-W. Va.) is expected to offer legislation within a few days also providing more funds for Amtrak.