Posted on Tue, Mar. 05, 2002
(free registration required for opening link)
LETTERS, FAXES AND E-MAIL
Tuesday, March 5
Save our trains
Regarding the article on the potential loss of Amtrak service (2/24, A-1, "Stormy times for Amtrak: Towns worry about losing trains"), the pie chart says it all. Amtrak and all other rail programs got 1.2 percent of total federal transportation funding in fiscal year 1999. What wasn't shown is that even this pitiful token funding is shrinking. After accounting for inflation, Amtrak is getting about half what it received 10 years ago.
Since its inception, Amtrak has only been allowed to hobble along. Every few years, we propose to remedy this by cutting off a few more inches of its crutches -- and then profess wonder that it can't run races.
Where Amtrak has been provided the resources to make even modest improvements, the public has responded through increased patronage.
Road and air will likely remain the predominate modes of public transport for some time, but there is also growing awareness of the downside of our fly/drive system and increased demand for reasonable alternatives.
You don't always get what you pay for, but you almost never get what you don't pay for. We've tried to have a national rail passenger system on the cheap, and it shows.
I propose that either we make a serious commitment to having a first-class rail passenger network, a truly national network comparable to our interstate highways, or junk the whole thing and admit we have sold out to the highway and airline lobbies.
The Kansas City "mules" that serve many towns between Kansas City and St. Louis may quit running in July. Apparently, there is no funding at the state level left for passenger rail.
At the federal level, Amtrak will receive the same microscopic amount of funding as last year. Adjusted for inflation, this amount has decreased constantly since 1971, when Amtrak was created to relieve freight railroads from passenger service.
The airlines received $5 billion in aid after the September events. Rail is getting no additional funding.
We in Kansas City are about to lose our long-distance trains. There is something we can do to help keep them. Missourians for Rail Passenger Service has a petition drive calling for a dedicated source of funding for passenger rail.
We are asking to put on the ballot in November 2002 a one-tenth of a cent sales tax on motor vehicle fuel. This would generate no more than $5 million to keep rail service and Missouri jobs and possibly extend service to Springfield, Rolla and Branson.
The cost to the average driver will be $1 a year. We have until May 1 to obtain the signatures from registered voters.
To obtain a petition form, mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to Missourians For Rail Passenger Service, 500 S. Green St., Lee's Summit, MO 64063.
Michel Seignette de Kerobert
Kansas City Regional Office, Missourians for Rail Passenger Service
Top of page
To Save Missouri trains page