Brian W. Nelson
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Legislators need to fund transportation – giving Minnesotans true transportation mobility
St. Paul, Minnesota (September 22, 2016 ) – All Aboard Minnesota was disappointed that a special session was not held to adequately fund transportation for Minnesotans. As state legislators reconvene in 2017 for a new session, we urge legislators to deliver a 2017 Transportation package that includes the $21 million needed by MnDot to fund rail passenger development on existing rail corridors designated in the State Rail Plan. The $21 million as proposed by bills HF 2791/SF2257 provides funding to expand intercity rail passenger service (Amtrak) on four key corridors within and connecting the state of Minnesota to the upper Midwest. These four main corridors are:
- Additional frequency between the Twin Cities and Chicago
- Twin Cities to Duluth
- Twin Cities to Des Moines and Kansas City
- Additional frequency between the Twin Cities and Fargo/Moorhead
Passenger rail provides convenience and true mobility options to small communities in rural areas where airline and bus service is expensive, or lacking. It also provides travel options for college students, the disabled, and the elderly that have difficulty driving or flying. It provides all weather travel safety and reliability that other modes of transportation can’t match.
More passenger rail frequencies between the Twin Cities-Chicago, Duluth and Kansas City make sense. For the additional frequency between the Twin Cities and Chicago alone, Amtrak and MnDOT recently released studies that found this service would be very popular. The preliminary study estimates that over 200 additional riders would be drawn to the service each way daily, giving people a lower-cost alternative to flying.
Additional frequencies and new service would create substantial new economic growth and increased tourism all along these four routes that could offset modest annual operating costs. It is estimated that for every dollar invested in passenger rail service, local communities benefit by up to four dollars that is brought by tourism, and additional services purchased.
“Amtrak has realized record passenger growth during the past three years, hauling over 30 million passengers each year. People from all generations all over the country are voting with their ridership that they want more passenger train service,” said Brian Nelson, President of All Aboard Minnesota, a citizen advocacy group promoting increased train travel options in Minnesota.
“The state of Minnesota is underserved by Amtrak,” he said, “with one single train, that operates through the state in the middle of the night west of the Twin Cities and only provides one daytime frequency to Chicago. Other states have invested in more and better train service: Illinois, Michigan, Missouri, Washington, North Carolina, California and others. They have all seen tremendous ridership growth. Illinois doubled its train frequency and saw the trains fill up in a matter of weeks! Illinois now fills 5 trains a day from Chicago-St. Louis. It only makes sense that fast, comfortable, modern trains should be a part of a truly balanced transportation system that provides Minnesotans with mobility options,” he added.
Additionally, there is the issue of energy efficiency and environmental impact. Trains are 30% more energy-efficient than cars, 20% more efficient than airplanes, resulting in less air pollution, less highway congestion, and less reliance on expensive regional air services.
Nelson also urged Minnesotans who would benefit from additional rail passenger services to get in touch with their state and federal legislators. “Legislators need to know their constituents are in support of expanded, better, and more convenient train service,” Nelson said, “and the upcoming session in 2017 is a good time to do it… while legislators are considering transportation issues. From the evidence we see, Minnesota could add significant new train services for one tenth of the cost of new roads in many cases… not only would it benefit the entire state economy, it would also benefit citizens from all over the state!”
About All Aboard Minnesota.
All Aboard Minnesota is a 501 ( c ) 3 non-profit advocacy and education organization focused on the expansion and development of more long distance rail passenger service as part of a balanced transportation system. We are dedicated to the development of fast, comfortable, frequent, intercity passenger train services within and connecting Minnesota to the upper Midwest.
For more information, All Aboard Minnesota can be reached at (612) 781-2894 or on the Web at: www.allaboardmn.org.
2016 All Aboard Minnesota. All other trademarks are the sole property of their respective owners.