EDITORIAL: Indiana keeps passenger service on track

2013-10-17T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Indiana keeps passenger service on track nwitimes.com
October 17, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Indiana took longer than other states to approve additional funding for Amtrak, but now the Hoosier State passenger service will keep going for another year. It is a move in the right direction.

Gov. Mike Pence and Amtrak reached an agreement in principle Tuesday, on the eve of the railroad's Wednesday deadline, for the state to partially subsidize the rail service.

The four-day-a-week service between Chicago and Indianapolis will continue to make stops in Dyer, Rensselaer, Lafayette and Crawfordsville.

Indiana was the last of 19 states asked to cough up money for local Amtrak routes under a 2008 federal law that shifts to states most of the cost for shorter routes under 750 miles.

The Illinois Department of Transportation announced last week it would pay $9 million to keep local service running.

Indiana is on the hook for $3 million, although the details on how much of the money will come from the Indiana Department of Transportation and how much from communities with stations along the route remains to be determined.

Indiana's agreement with Amtrak is for one year, with a potential four-month extension.

In 2011, according to an Amtrak fact sheet, 2,439 people used the Dyer station. Another 2,042 passengers used the Rensselaer station.

Service between Indianapolis and Chicago is $23 per ticket, one way. The ride takes about 5 hours, 5 minutes.

That's a long train ride. It is a much quicker route by car. Making this route more popular will require slashing the travel time as well as providing amenities today's traveler has come to expect.

Rescuing the service, at least for a year, allows the focus to shift from preservation of service to improvement so the route will become more popular than it already is.

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