Archive for Monday, April 17, 2017

Trump budget proposal would end Amtrak service in Kansas cities

The Santa Fe depot in East Lawrence is shown in this file photo from 2013.

The Santa Fe depot in East Lawrence is shown in this file photo from 2013.

April 17, 2017

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A federal budget proposal that puts a passenger train route that passes through Kansas at risk is raising concerns.

At issue is a provision in President Donald Trump's budget that calls for the elimination of federal subsidies for some long-distance train routes, The Topeka Capital-Journal reports.

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said in an email that the final and full budget plan for Amtrak's federal aid hasn't been released. But he confirmed that among "several services targeted" would be the Southwest Chief, which spans from Chicago to Los Angeles. It has stops in several Kansas towns, including Topeka, Lawrence, Garden City and Hutchinson.

U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins has voiced concern, saying in a statement that "infrastructure is vital to Kansas and rural America" and that she couldn't support the $2.4 billion cut to the Department of Transportation's budget. She said she would work with other lawmakers to create a "responsible, balanced budget." Kansas generates just shy of 50,000 passengers per year for Amtrak.

Among those affected would be Ronald Smith of Elkhart, Indiana, who travels cross country, usually by rail, for Auto Driveaway, a New Orleans-based trucking company. In Topeka, he picks up Frito-Lay trucks and drives them to wherever they're needed.

If Topeka's station or any of the other long-distance routes close, it could be problematic, Smith said. Flying into small airports is costly, and buses aren't as reliable, he said.

"You stop at these little towns where there's not much else," Smith said. "I could still get in and out, but it'd be more money out my pocket, or I'd be camping on a bus somewhere."

In Lawrence, the city has worked with Amtrak and BNSF to transfer ownership of the station to the city and refurbish the building, assistant city manager Diane Stoddard said. In 2013, the city received a $1.2 million grant from the state for the project, and the real estate transaction should close some time this year.

"There are a number of local passengers who utilize the Lawrence Amtrak station," Stoddard said. "Having the Amtrak station here has been a transportation asset for the community for many years."

Comments

Clark Coan 6 days ago

Hopefully, our Kansas Congressional Delegation will be able to keep the funding at current levels.

Michael Kort 6 days ago

A darkness descends across the land...........but this is a democracy and we get what we vote for
even if we don't like it when it shows its' ugly face !

Larry Sturm 5 days, 23 hours ago

Another one of Trump's Make America Great flops.

Steve Jacob 5 days, 21 hours ago

Why we are 20 trillion in debt, Jenkins wants to cut spending, until it affects her district. Any spending cuts hurts somebody's district. Tax cuts and no spending cuts, what could go wrong?

Richard Heckler 5 days, 20 hours ago

Lynn Jenkins is useless. She is not running for office which is to say no one will pay attention. She's a Trump supporter so in essence what we are getting from her is political rhetoric.

SOOOOOOO what I am gathering is a profiteer is in the picture who sees a pile of dough known as tax dollars to support the private business. Yes folks that is privatization ---- turning our tax dollars over to private industry. Operational costs will shoot up beyond reality.

Paul Beyer 5 days, 19 hours ago

Yep, the same 25% of brownie lovers who want her to continue his path to totally destroying Kansas.

Armen Kurdian 5 days, 5 hours ago

Even with competitive advantage on its routes, Amtrak has structural problems from a cost perspective that make it very difficult to break even unless the trains are nearly full like in the Northeast corridor. Amtrak doesn't even own the rails it runs on. Instead of fighting for the subsidies, they need to figure out how to cut costs so as not to need them, or greatly reduce their need. I'm not sure if their pension structure and how it is funded contributes to their issues.

Dorothy Hoyt-Reed 5 days, 1 hour ago

At a time when it is getting more and more irritating and distressful to fly, Trump wants to cut spending to alternatives? How buddy, buddy is he with the United upper crust?

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