State Budget Cuts Could Reduce Amtrak Service to Region
The governor's proposed state budget cuts could derail Amtrak service to southern Illinois.
In the latest round of budget cut talks, Governor Bruce Rauner is proposing a 40% reduction in state funding to Amtrak. That amounts to $16 million less a year and would return state funding for Amtrak to 2013 levels. Currently Amtrak has three daily trains running round trips from Chicago to Carbondale.
A reduction of this size could mean fewer trains. The worst-case scenario would leave one train daily, the City of New Orleans, which departs just after 3:00am.
Mike Richards with the Midwest High Speed Rail Association says this cut could have a devastating affect on SIUC students: "You have a lot of SIU students who are coming down here on these trains and if you cut 2 of the 3 trains and only leave the trains in the middle of the night its going to make it much less attractive for students to take the train and students who don't have cars it's going to make it much less attractive for them to go to SIU."
Richards says along with the inconvenient departure time the City of New Orleans train is not state supported and therefore more expensive to operate. He says after adding a third train in 2006 Amtrak saw a 50% increase in ridership by making public transportation more convenient.