Saturday, March 10, 2007

States need to invest in Amtrak and follow California and Illinois' lead

Edward Sivoy found the following information -- very insightful.

And by the way, Governor Blagojevich's new budget submitted to the General Assembly three days ago fully funds Amtrak service in Illinois, so congratulations to him. It shows that Amtrak is a political winner for state legislators and governors and that more legislators and governors should embrace a state-funded Amtrak expansion as good public policy and good politics.

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STATE PAYMENTS FOR INTERCITY RAIL SERVICE

These 14 states will pay Amtrak a total of $172.6 million next
year for expanded intercity passenger rail service. The federal government
would add to this in the future under proposals from the administration and
Congress:

California, $79.7 million

Illinois, $26.9 million

Washington, $13.1 million

Missouri, $7.6 million

Pennsylvania, $7.2 million

Wisconsin, $5.9 million

Michigan, $5.8 million

North Carolina, $4.9 million

Oregon, $4.7 million

Maine, $4.3 million

New York, $4.3 million

Vermont, $4.2 million

Oklahoma, $2 million

Texas, $2 million

Source: Amtrak

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It's a good time for other Midwestern states like Indiana, Iowa, Ohio and Minnesota to start partnering with Amtrak to start buying more service. Ohio, in particular, doesn't have any real daytime Amtrak service. And the Minneapolis-Chicago market is among the most underserved in the Amtrak system with only one daily round-trip but with a trip length of 409 miles, it's perfect for rail. Minnesota should just start paying for another daily round-trip.

2 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

I'm a Minnesotan who does advocate more transit and transportation options in general. I'm not apt to work towards advocating for the state to funding amtrak projects until key questions as to what the federal government plans on doing with amtrak in the long term. Minnesota, first, needs to get into long term transit planning and funding the local/regional projects, and then we'll start getting to the inter-state projects, is my guess.

'Phase II' of northstar (to St. Cloud), a central corridor light rail line, and rush line corridor (fully extended to duluth) are all going to have to happen and at least be running before I think people will seriously consider a major funding into a Minneapolis to Chicago rail system.

Illinois and Chicago gain a lot more out of an upgraded route than Minnesota does. We'd lose some traffic at MSP and hurt a local company (Northwest) by extending competition for international routes via Chicago -- I'm figuring at some point United would leverage the rail connections to reduce flights into ORD from close locations and increase the frequency of popular international routes. I'm not sure how legislators would react to a proposal that harms Northwest at some point, as they've heavily invested in them (and the airport) in the past.

I'm all for having 3+ trips a day to Chicago if it made sense and the money could be worked out, but I don't think the politics will be aligned for some time. I'd be surprised to see serious investment before 2012 into interstate rail from Minnesota. I'd hope we'd 'see the light' before 2015.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Dan Johnson-Weinberger said...

Hi Scott. Thanks for posting. I want to think through your posting, but tell me about how you think O'Hare (which is not on the Amtrak network) benefits from a Minneapolis-Chicago connection on rail? But more importantly, I think the entire Midwest region (from Toronto to St. Louis) does better when we all do better, so if Chicago benefits from connections to Minnesota, that's great for Minnesota. But the cost for increasing frequencies between Minneapolis (and points west of Minneapolis) and Chicago is relatively cheap -- less than $10 million annually. And it's a huge political winner, as it's a direct benefit for constituents. I think the new commuter rail service is great, by the way. Do they use the same train station in Minneapolis/St. Paul?

1:08 PM  

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