Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Opinion

August 16, 2013

Amtrak’s service in Indiana needs to remain

Rails must be funded to avoid extinction

For the sake of preserving plans for 21st century transportation in Indiana, Amtrak’s Hoosier State passenger rail service must be saved from extinction in October.

With two trains each way four days a week, the line has been a valuable travel mechanism for leisure travelers, university students and corporate personnel and for Indianapolis business travelers who have had meetings and appointments in Chicago.

In addition to Indianapolis and Chicago, the Hoosier State also serves Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer. The train has been especially popular with students traveling to Chicago for special events.

On most of the trains, the riders will fill its cars to capacity. In fact, in the year 2012, some 37,000 passengers rode the train, making it one of the busiest in the Midwest.

But thanks to the Federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008, all passenger trains traveling less than 750 miles now require state subsidy, and that is the rub. Indiana has never supported or subsidized Amtrak or any of its projects in this state. Compared to states such as Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, which have subsidized their trains to the tune of several millions of dollars annually, Indiana has not participated.

To continue running the popular train, Indiana will need to come up with $3 million annually, and this is a good time for this state to do so. Shying away from this obligation could jeopardize plans put forth by the Indiana High Speed Rail Association and the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association to bring modern and efficient passenger rail service to this state.

Now, the Indiana General Assembly did approve in its most recent state budget for INDOT to spend a portion of its annual discretionary funds on the Amtrak Hoosier State line, but did not require the agency to do so. Nonetheless, INDOT is studying its options, which could include eliminating the train service altogether, funding it at existing levels or funding the rail line when it shows trains traveling at 79 mph, and a 90 percent on-time performance with increased frequency.

I have written before that Indiana needs to make a serious investment in passenger rail service. Our studies are showing that such service does indeed add to the local and state economies through commercial and tourism investments and added tax revenues. Efficient, comfortable and higher-speed trains can markedly add to the business friendliness of Indiana and make both intrastate and interstate travel much more affordable and accommodating.

This is why INHSRA and NIPRA are so passionate about adding to and improving passenger rail service in Indiana, and making it a part of the state’s transportation mix. Saving the Hoosier State through state subsidies and investing in the more futuristic and modern higher speed trains is a win-win for all of Indiana, its citizens and its various business communities.

Please contact Gov. Mike Pence and your Indiana state legislator to let them know you support saving the Hoosier State and investing in Indiana’s passenger rail future.

W. Dennis Hodges is the founder and vice president of business relations of the Indiana High Speed Rail Association. He lives in Merrillville.

1
Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Road must be made safer Eight months ago, the Indiana Department of Transportation opened the new U.S. 31 bypass east of Kokomo. Joining Mayor Greg Goodnight was Gov. Mike Pence. Even the Kokomo High School marching band performed at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. It was the

    July 24, 2014

  • SEN. JIM BUCK: New laws offer help for kids Families with children who have special needs often face difficulties finding the best care or treatment for their specific circumstance. During the 2014 legislative session, the Indiana General Assembly passed several initiatives to assist these fam

    July 24, 2014

  • LETTERS: Christians must stand with Israel 'As Christians we must stand with life' The present conflict in Israel is with Hamas, recognized even in Egypt as a terrorist organization. Recently Hamas formed a unity government with the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. They're now the government in

    July 24, 2014

  • BILL STANCZYKIEWICZ: Youth sports leagues are on troubling decline An important youth development activity is looking to end a recent losing streak. Participation in organized youth sports leagues for baseball, football, basketball and soccer declined by 4 percent between 2008-2012, according to a report in the Wall

    July 24, 2014

  • Keep eye out for kids

    With most local schools welcoming students in a couple of weeks — and Kokomo schools beginning class Aug. 5 (yes, a week from this coming Tuesday) — it’s important for motorists to think about safe driving as children travel to and from school.Law en

    July 23, 2014

  • MAUREEN HAYDEN: Expiring term heightens urgency of legislator's mission State Rep. Rebecca Kubacki had plans for her return to the General Assembly next January.The two-term Republican from Kosciusko County wanted to exert “full force” to roll back a law that prevents the children of undocumented immigrants from paying i

    July 23, 2014

  • LETTERS: Let's hope 7th Circuit sides with couples Let’s hope 7th Circuit sides with couplesIf you blinked over the past month, you probably missed some news about marriage equality in Indiana.First, a federal court ruled that the state’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples was unconstitutional, whi

    July 23, 2014

  • CECIL BOHANON: Spend down surplus? Been there, done that Back in 1998, the state of Indiana had more than $1.3 billion in surplus funds in its general account. This was about 57 days of state spending. The state had total surplus funds of more than $2 billion that was over 24 percent of its annual operatin

    July 23, 2014

  • Rob Burgess House of Burgess: Bush? Clinton? Next, please

    Here comes a sentence I don’t usually find myself typing: I agree with Barbara Bush on something. Jan. 20, C-SPAN aired her installment in the series “First Ladies: Influence and Image,” which was filmed at Bush’s Houston home. “Do you think there is room for another Bush in The White House?” asked host Peter Slen. “This is a great American country, a great country, and if we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly, because there are great governors and great eligible people to run,” said Bush. “I think Kennedys, Clintons, Bushes; there are just more families than that.”

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • State aims at outbreaks More than 200 Western School Corp. students were vaccinated for chickenpox after an outbreak in March 2012.The virus was confirmed to have infected five fifth-graders, the Howard County Health Department reported. It acted quickly to prevent the infe

    July 22, 2014

Featured Ads
Only on our website
AP Video
Death Penalty Expert: 'This is a Turning Point' House Committee at Odds Over Obama Lawsuit Raw: MH17 Victim's Bodies Arrive in Netherlands Raw: UN School Used As Shelter Hit by Tank Shell Raw: Gunmen Attack Iraqi Prison Convoy Plane Leaves Ukraine With More Crash Victims The Rock Brings Star Power to Premiere Raw: Families Travel to Taiwan Plane Crash Site Arizona Execution Takes Almost Two Hours Gen. Odierno Discusses Ukraine, NATO at Forum Gaza Fighting Rages Amid Cease-Fire Efforts Mint Gives JFK Coin a Face-lift Creative Makeovers for Ugly Cellphone Towers Ariz. Inmate Dies 2 Hours After Execution Began Crash Kills Teen Pilot Seeking World Record LeBron James Sends Apology Treat to Neighbors Raw: Funeral for Man Who Died in NYPD Custody Migrants Back in Honduras After US Deports Israeli American Reservist Torn Over Return
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Obituaries
Poll