Missouri Amtrak Service

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Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby KCgridlock » Tue Jan 21, 2003 7:54 pm

Missouri Amtrak service could be cut by March 1
DAVID A. LIEB
Associated Press

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Unless Missouri comes up with more money by the end of next month, Amtrak plans to eliminate one of its two daily passenger trains between St. Louis and Kansas City.

State transportation officials told lawmakers Tuesday they need $1.2 million - on top of the $5 million already appropriated - to continue running both trains through the June 30 end of the fiscal year.

"If we don't get supplemental funding, the train, unfortunately, will cease service after Feb. 28," said Amtrak spokeswoman Kathleen Cantillon.

Under the current schedule, Amtrak trains leave both St. Louis and Kansas City around 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m., stopping at eight cities in between as they cross paths.

If service were cut, the only options would be an eastbound 7:30 a.m. train from Kansas City and a westbound 3:30 p.m. train from St. Louis.

"If you were to cut back, you could get to St. Louis or you could get to Kansas City for a meeting, but you couldn't get back that same day," said Brian Weiler, director of multimodal operations for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

That would leave Alexis Helm in a bind. The 19-year-old Lincoln University student travels from Jefferson City to Kansas City to visit her family about every other week. She typically takes the evening train, but on Tuesday was returning to school on the morning train.

If Amtrak eliminated one of the trains, "it would be horrible for me, because I wouldn't have as convenient of a way to go home," said Helm, who does not own a car.

Given the pace of the state budget process, it is unlikely that lawmakers will have passed a supplemental appropriation for Amtrak service by Feb. 28. But if the extra money looks likely, Amtrak officials may be willing to negotiate continued service with the state, Cantillon said.

There is no guarantee that lawmakers will provide the extra funds. When drafting the current state budget, they intentionally reduced Amtrak's appropriation to $5 million from the $6.2 million it had received the previous year.

Missouri's Amtrak service has been cut in the past.

In 1995, one of the two Amtrak trains was eliminated for three months because of a lack of funding, Cantillon said, and it took three years to build back up ridership.

State transportation officials are worried about a similar backlash if service were cut this year. If the state were to eliminate one of the trains from March through June, service could be restored when the next budget year begins in July.

Amtrak officials have estimated they would need $8.9 million from Missouri to operate both trains next fiscal year. But Amtrak historically has agreed to operate for less than initially requested.

Both Amtrak and state government are financially strapped, making it difficult for either to bear a heavier burden for operating the trains.

"Missouri's not alone in terms of these new discussions with Amtrak (for states) to pick up more of the cost of operating the service," Cantillon said. "It's happening all over the county."

But Missouri is the only state facing such an immediate cut in service, she said.

If lawmakers don't approve more money, the state would eliminate Amtrak's Missouri Mule trains, which loop between St. Louis and Kansas City. Service would continue on the Ann Rutledge route, which runs daily between Chicago, St. Louis and Kansas City.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby ignatius » Thu Mar 03, 2005 8:58 am

KC-St. Louis train funding imperiled

By KELLY WIESE

The Associated Press


JEFFERSON CITY — A House panel looking for budget savings has voted to eliminate state funding for the twice-daily Amtrak passenger train service between St. Louis and Kansas City.

The House Transportation Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday night to cut the $6.4 million that Gov. Matt Blunt had recommended to subsidize the train service. Earlier this week, several mayors and officials from cities along the train route pleaded with the committee to maintain Amtrak's funding.

Blunt said Wednesday he still thinks Amtrak should be funded. “We need to sustain the services that exist today,â€

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby JivecitySTL » Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:55 am

Why doesn't our dumbass governor raise some fucking taxes? All these programs are suffering because of his unrealistic promise. Fuck the GOP.
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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby GRID » Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:17 pm

JivecitySTL wrote:Why doesn't our dumbass governor raise some fucking taxes? All these programs are suffering because of his unrealistic promise. Fuck the GOP.


No shit, but, as usual, 80 percent would have to go to rural areas even though they contribute 20 percent of the taxes.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby dangerboy » Thu Mar 03, 2005 1:22 pm

This is an annual thing. I don't think the service is anymore danger than it is every year, especially when Blunt actually wants to increase money for Amtrak. It's survived worse budget years.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby KCMax » Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:10 pm

Does Bush's budget affect this at all? I know he wanted to severely scrap Amtrak funding, but I didn't know if that was limited to certain regions.
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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby staubio » Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:17 pm

What danger said. Amtrak is always imperiled. I agree with the article -- it makes it hard to promote the service if it could be gone at any moment. If it could be counted upon, imagine the promotions that could take place for all of the towns and sites on the route. If it could run on time, it is preferable to driving for a lot of people.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby ignatius » Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:23 pm

Anyone know the avg daily traffic? I'm in the Station sometimes for a late lunch when the afternoon train arrives from STL and only a dozen or so come off the train, maybe 40 at most.

The Chicago/LA train often has many dozens to a hundred+.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby ignatius » Thu Mar 03, 2005 6:30 pm

Found this..

http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascit ... 000255.htm

2002 traffic was 189,000 for the year. That's about 517 per day or over 100 each way (4 trains in/out a day).

And a good chunk of that isn't full KC/STL ridership. That is, a STL passenger may get off in Jeff City, Sedalia or Lee's Summit, etc. Or some may go from Lee's Summit to Jeff City. Explains why only 40 or so may make it to KC's Union Station.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby staubio » Thu Mar 03, 2005 10:22 pm

That is the case. When I've taken it, tons of people pile of at Kirkwood on the way to St. Louis and at Lee's Summit and Independence on the way to KC. The train is pretty dead by the time you actually reach the city.

In fact, it felt like I was one of only a few people that actually went all the way into STL. Kirkwood was the last stop for most everyone. More people actually make it to Union Station than to STL's AmShack.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby cdschofield » Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:54 am

KCMax wrote:Does Bush's budget affect this at all? I know he wanted to severely scrap Amtrak funding, but I didn't know if that was limited to certain regions.


I stumbled on to this subject one night on CSPAN. It is actually the result of the Amtrak Reform Council which was created in 1998 as part of the Amtrak Reform and Accountability Act of 1997. It's final report came out in 2002 but until recently it sat on a shelf collecting dust like many other government studies. The jist of it is to break Amtrak up into 3 entities and end it's monopoly on intercity passenger rail service. There would be an entity that would maintain and expand rail infrastructure, another entity would run passenger rail service and the third entity would regulate national passenger rail service. The idea is to copy what Canada has done recently and what the UK and Japan among other countries have done for years, put the passenger rail service routes out for bid. If a state wants passenger rail service they can put out a RFB without having to go to Amtrak. The federal government will match the state funds for the passenger rail service. For instance, Oklahoma has been begging Amtrak for years to add a Dallas to Kansas City route without any luck. With reform Oklahoma can partner with Texas, Kansas and Missouri or go it alone and subsidize passenger rail service on that route.

On this CSPAN discussion forum the CEO of Ontario Northland was the keynote speaker. He started passenger rail service in Ontario when Via Rail Canada lost it's monopoly. It's been a great success and he's looking to expand. He insisted that private rail companies can provide more and better passenger rail service for less cost to governments.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby tat2kc » Fri Mar 04, 2005 10:02 am

I am constantly amazed at the lack of support for Amtrak. I would have thought the events of 9/11, and the shutdown of commercial air traffic would have spurred more investment into rail, not less. We need a variety of transportation options, so that a disruption of one mode will not cripple us as much. It is much more cost effective to take the train to St. Louis than to fly, but the airlines are more than willing to loose money on those short flights, just to boost ridership. Rail systems in the US, and here in Missouri need to be expanded and upgraded so that we'll have options if needed. This is so damn short sighted.
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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby dangerboy » Fri Mar 04, 2005 11:42 am

I don't know if the KC/STL route could ever be profitable, but it could be a lot more successful. But it would take a lot of investment.

*Major track upgrades to speed up the service and reduce the delays when Amtrak has to stop for freight trains to pass.

*More frequent service at more times of the day.

*A rail spur or shuttle bus from Jeff City to Columbia to capture the student audience.

*Much more aggressive advertising and promotion of the service.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby ignatius » Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:00 pm

dangerboy wrote:I don't know if the KC/STL route could ever be profitable, but it could be a lot more successful. But it would take a lot of investment.



Transit is a public service that does not always make money just as constructing/maintaining highways and roads are a public service that do not generate income. Airlines attempt to but if there were only one airline, it might have to be govt funded to keep it running. Ditto for train service.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby Thrillcekr » Fri Mar 04, 2005 12:45 pm

dangerboy wrote:I don't know if the KC/STL route could ever be profitable, but it could be a lot more successful. But it would take a lot of investment.

*Major track upgrades to speed up the service and reduce the delays when Amtrak has to stop for freight trains to pass.

*More frequent service at more times of the day.

*A rail spur or shuttle bus from Jeff City to Columbia to capture the student audience.

*Much more aggressive advertising and promotion of the service.


I think it could be profitable but not with Amtrak. A high speed train would probably catch on real well but the bottom line is that most people really aren't interested in riding the Amtrak when they can drive to St. Louis much faster. I think about all the money we've dumped into that and it's really not used by the majority of the citizens. Kind of sad that we keep funding it with money we could be using on a train that people would use. I know I haven't ridden it but I definately would make a few trips to STL if I could get there in an hour and a half.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby bahua » Sat Mar 05, 2005 3:27 pm

I think it could only be profitable if a number of the stops were scrapped. It's all the stops that makes it so damn inefficient and prone to delays. Privatizing it probably wouldn't hurt either, but the biggest problem is that Amtrak's biggest competitors, automobiles and airplanes, are both very heavily favored by the federal government in the form of subsidy, while in most transportation approaches, Amtrak falls by the wayside, receiving paltry funding and lukewarm underpriced ridership.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby staubio » Tue Mar 08, 2005 3:54 pm

bahua wrote:I think it could only be profitable if a number of the stops were scrapped. It's all the stops that makes it so damn inefficient and prone to delays. Privatizing it probably wouldn't hurt either, but the biggest problem is that Amtrak's biggest competitors, automobiles and airplanes, are both very heavily favored by the federal government in the form of subsidy, while in most transportation approaches, Amtrak falls by the wayside, receiving paltry funding and lukewarm underpriced ridership.


Making a stop takes about 5 minutes. I think we stopped in Independence, Lee's Summit, Sedalia, Jeff City, Kirkwood and St. Louis last time I went. Those aren't a big deal. It is the stopping and slowing for freight trains that really slows the service down.

You're right, though. The subsidies on the other forms of transportation so massively overwhelm what Amtrak spends, there is no comparison.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby enough » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:10 pm

Often overlooked as a travel option between Kansas City and St. Louis is the Amtrak service that makes two round trips daily.  MoDOT reports ridership was up during the July thru October period.

Travel by train is totally different than driving or flying.  Better than driving because you don't have the stress of driving, the scenery is actually visible since there are no billboards or other roadside clutter -- plus there's a half-decent cafe car on the train.  Better than flying because seats are far roomier and there's no risk of having to reveal the holes in your socks -- just show a picture ID when you pick up your ticket.

MoDOT's news release (below) quotes a round trip price of $35.  That's only when Amtrak is offering special discounts.  To find out, go to www.amtrak.com and click "Hot Deals" and then "Weekly Specials."

The best regularly available one-way fare is $25 -- usually available for Monday thru Thursday travel, and sometimes Friday thru Sunday if you reserve far enough ahead. 

The new STL Amtrak station is still pretty modest, but it's a big step up from the old modular "Amshack" that served for a quarter century.  St. Louis Union Station, Savvis Center, and a MetroLink station are a few-minute walk away.  (St. Louis' intermodal passenger station is still in the future.)

One caution on your trip -- You might not arrive on schedule.  Scheduled travel time between downtown KCY and downtown STL is 5 hours and 40 minutes.   Occasionally you'll get there as much as 15 minutes early, but as often as not you'll be late.  Amtrak uses Union Pacific tracks between Kansas City and St. Louis, a line that carries a lot of freight traffic -- lots of coal and lots of container trains.  Amtrak usually gets the right of way, but sometimes there are more freight trains than sidings....  Just relax and be prepared for adventure.

Here's the MoDOT news release:


MoDOT News Release
Dec. 9, 2005 – For immediate release No. 72G

Amtrak Ridership Up Nine Percent on St. Louis to Kansas City Corridor

JEFFERSON CITY – With gas prices hovering between $2 - $3 a gallon, state transportation officials are seeing a nine percent increase in train passengers traveling in Missouri over Amtrak’s St. Louis to Kansas City corridor. This route includes stops in St. Louis, Kirkwood, Washington, Hermann, Jefferson City, Sedalia, Warrensburg, Lee’s Summit, Independence and Kansas City.

“Ridership on the St. Louis to Kansas City corridor is much higher than last year at this time,â€
Last edited by enough on Tue Dec 13, 2005 8:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby LenexatoKCMO » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:22 pm

Nothing like turning a 3 1/2 hour car ride into a 7-8 hour train ride. 

I used to live in Europe and lord knows I would love to see usable rail transport in this area but unfortunately rail service in Missouri makes rail service in Morrocco look efficient as hell - and thats not much of a standard to live by. 

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Re: Missouri Amtrak Service

Postby tat2kc » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:35 pm

I've used Amtrak for trips form Denver to Louisiana few times, just for the experiece. Its really very relaxing, and the food on the long haul trrains is quite good. I've also done the STL run a couple times, and used the light rail system while in STL. It was great to not have to deal with cars and parking.  I much prefer the train to flying. If it were more dependable on arrival times I'd use it much more. 
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