Letters to the Editor

Letter: Inconvenient Amtrak

August 1, 2014


To the editor:

I would love to ride Amtrak more, BUT the schedules and routes make it so very difficult. To visit Kansas City and back would be 5:30 a.m. to around midnight. Too long for a day of sightseeing.

To get to Colorado for a vacation, there’s no place Amtrak stops to get a rental car until you get to New Mexico, (I’ve tried). I finally gave up riding Amtrak!


Joe Blackford II 3 years, 10 months ago

There's something to be said for crossing Kansas IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 9 months ago

This was not so much a problem in the past when the railroads were the main provider of passenger service before airplanes that fall out of the sky. There were schedules that allowed for more than one train a day back when most people traveled long distance by train. But today, with the main destinations Los Angeles and Chicago fly-over-Kansas is not relevant to the people who make the schedules. Even now Amtrak is struggling with low ridership and Republican opposition to public transportation and is having a difficult time providing service that will be useful to everyone.

I would like to se train transportation be more efficient such as we see in Japan and Europe, but today's traveler is so welded to his personal car and political opinions are so entrenched that such transportation plans are not workable in the U.S.

True there are corridors of high density train travel in the eastern part of the country and these lines do well, but when you get out into the Midwest where the population density is less, logical and reasonable train travel arrangements would simply not work.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Stop building highways we don't need and invest in more public transportation such as AMTRAK commuter service between Topeka,Lawrence and KCMO/JOCO metro.

East coast,West coast,Chicago etc etc etc have been doing this for years and years …… and it works. Whether one is a resident or a tourist. Voice of experience.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 9 months ago

The midwest is not the east or west coasts and what works there would not work here. I understand that to those taking the train it is very important. But, now it is cheaper to fly and obviously a lot faster. Trains require infrastructure that must be keep in repair due to the strain of the trains passing over the rails. Stations must be staffed and maintained. The trains must be staffed and maintained.

Since planes carry a lot more people it is more cost effective. Most people just want the fastest, cheapest way to get from point A to point B.

Leslie Swearingen

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Commuters could leave their cars at home. Take the Commuter Run which would be far less tense than driving back and forth 5 days a week or more. Rush hours are insane.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 3 years, 9 months ago

There used to be commuter rail service between Lawrence and the KC area. In the 1930's there was the interurban railway that ran from Lawrence through Bonner Springs and into the KC area. I believe it was called the Kansas City and Kaw Valley. I read a magazine article on this back in the 1970's The depot was on Massachusetts street where the Free State Brewery is today. The rails used to run down Mass street over the bridge and then turned east paralleling the Union Pacific tracks. There are still stone abutments in the fields in North Lawrence that supported these tracks over the UP tracks.

Those old tracks appeared again when the downtown streets and the old bridge was demolished and replaced. Back when that building was still used for the Greyhound bus station, you could still see the old overhead catenary wire supports in the ceiling of the bay where the trains and later the busses arrived.

James Howlette 3 years, 9 months ago

Going to Chicago is pretty fun, though. It's 5:30 (usually more like 7:00) on the way there, and 3:00 pm on the way back. Gotta stay one overnight, though.

Mike Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

This is lazy nonsense by the writer. I started in early April this year and put together a 48 hour trip from Union Station in KCMO to Union Station in Chicago for May 4th-5th. I had to find a Cardinals-Cubs night game because the Southwest Chief runs from 7am to 3pm. We had a motel voucher we got from a bad motel experience in OKC at a Thunder game in March so we had our motel covered. We had to ride a total of almost 50 miles on buses and the L from Union Station to Wrigley to our motel by O'Hare then back into town to a book store and pizza stop in Lincoln Park before going back to the train station to return to KCMO. We rode the Red, Blue, and Brown lines for $13.50 a piece. We did Amtrak to Chicago, a Cubs game in 44 degree weather and Geno's East Deep Dish Pizza and Powell's Books and back to KC on Amtrak from Sunday morning, May 4th to Monday evening May 5. We did this with $50 for two Cubs tickets, like $264 for two adult Amtrak tickets roundtrip to Chicago and $60 for meals for two days and maybe $45 a piece for souvenirs and books. It can be done if planning instead of whining occurs. Besides the BNSF's and UP's of the railroad world dictate when and if Amtrak can use their rails for passenger trains. Furthermore my father has us take him to Omaha for the California Zephyr to Sacramento where he stays a day and catches the Starlite to Portland and takes the Empire Builder back to Chicago and the Southwest Chief back to KC like he did a month or so ago. He gets Senior rates so this ride was cheap. The state of Kansas is soooo dumb that they're not going to repair the rails west of Wichita and Newton for Amtrak purposes in the near future and they're going to leave southwest Kansas without rail service. How genius of the GOP in this state. When my dad went through WIlliston, ND, ground zero for the fracking revolution the only affordable way there for the oil workers from both the West Coast and Great Lakes area was Amtrak. Get to Omaha and catch the California Zephyr and go straight to Denver or get off the Amtrak in Garden City or Dodge City and rent a car there. DUH.

Ken Lassman 3 years, 9 months ago

Agreed--repairing the rails so Amtrack can continue through to points Southwest will not be cheap but a boon to all Kansans who want to travel by rail, which is a real delight.. By the way, instead of the reader complaining about not being able to ride the rails to Colorado, there are two great alternatives:

1) Drive up to Omaha, spend the day at the zoo, then hop the Amtrack line up there to Denver--problem solved! 2) Widen your horizons by going to New Mexico instead, renting a car when you get there to go explore that state.

Mike Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

I hope they don't fix those rails because then the route we go due south to OKC and connect with the Heartland Flyer and the Southwest Chief will head west from OKC to Albuquerque. The Amtrak station in OKC is a block or so east of the Thunder arena. We then could ride the train to Thunder games.

Leslie Swearingen 3 years, 9 months ago

Or, you could drive to KCI, park, fly to Chicago, see a game, shop and fly back that same night.

Mike Ford 3 years, 9 months ago

and pay quite a bit more to go through all of the security and parking hassle at KCI. I guess the Blue Line or the L from Chicago Midway is a possibility because I've done both. I paid $264 for two people round trip from KC to Chicago on Amtrak. I don't think that price can be done on a plane.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 9 months ago

Commuters trains between Topeka,Lawrence,JOCO and KCO metro could remove a lot of cars from the highways thus less wear and tear on cars and highways. With bus and taxis on the other end waiting to deliver commuters to their final destination points. Of course it would work.

Traveling by train is relaxing and friendly. We used trains,city bus lines and bicycles on our honeymoon. Family travel by train has been fun as well. Train travel is like taking back roads through the USA. Binoculars and cameras might be labeled as a must have.

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