Saturday, November 19, 2005

Champaign County needs better another round trip Amtrak

The current Amtrak schedule that serves Chicago, Homewood, Kankakee, Gillman, Rantoul, Champaign-Urbana, Mattoon, Effingham, Centralia, DuQuion and Carbondale is here:

You can see that there are two southbound evening trains from Chicago, one that leaves at 4 pm and one that leaves at 8 pm. Of course, there should be a morning train leaving Chicago at 7 am or so, arriving in Champaign at 9:30 am.

You can also see that there are two northbound trains, one that leaves Carbondale at 3 am and one that leaves Carbondale at 4 pm. The 3 am train is the City of New Orleans, and that train can run hours and hours late. There should be a train that leaves Carbodale at 5 am or so, so that if the City of New Orleans is very late, the reliable train that starts in Carbondale can pick people up along the route, capping the delay at two hours.

I think this would be great for Champaign, and it would only cost $3 million or so. As revenue from the train goes up, the cost to the state would then go down.

Of course, this would also be good for every other city along the route, especially Carbondale, to connect these cities to Chicago. Students would really benefit as well.

Can we find another $3 million in the state budget to get adequate Amtrak service on this route? Ask Governor Blagojevich here to do just that.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

David Gunn is fired. Now the game is on.

The Amtrak Board of Directors fired the best CEO Amtrak has ever had, David Gunn.

Why? Who knows.

David Gunn believes that the Board wants to liquidate Amtrak.

That would be a disaster, but consistent with some of the ideologues in the Bush Administration.

It's a good thing Members of Congress are now openly challenging the Administration's plans for Amtrak -- because Members seem to understand the value of vibrant passenger trains.

Ridership is up, revenues are up, employee headcount is down, delays are down....and you're fired.