“Every option was put on the table and it was a good dialogue, so we’ll see where it goes from here,” he said. “I’m optimistic, but obviously there are a lot of moving pieces all around on this — on our end, on the state’s end and on Amtrak’s side.”
The Hoosier State Line is in jeopardy because effective Oct. 1, Congress has eliminated funding for lines like it in 19 states that are shorter than 750 miles.
Amtrak’s three-day-a-week Cardinal line that runs from Chicago through Indianapolis to the East Coast will continue because that route exceeds 750 miles.
Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the Hoosier State Line began operation in 1980, although it has changed service levels and stops in the three decades since then.
Officials in the Lafayette area, where the line is used by Purdue University students — particularly the campus’ large international student body — hope the line continues its service. And they’re not alone.
Barton said Crawfordsville’s Amtrak station has seen steady increase in ridership over the years and the Hoosier State Line is important to his city of 16,000, which is home of Wabash College. He said many of the school’s international students, like those at Purdue, rely on the line.
Barton said he’s certain that keeping the line and expanding the frequency of its trains would bring new growth to cities along the line.
“This is as much about economic development as it is about transportation. Our community, like many others, faces the challenge of attracting those 20- and 30-year-olds with disposable incomes who are starting families,” he said. “And every survey you look at shows that when it comes to what they want in a community, reliable public transportation is in the top 10.”