16 February 2005
Riding that train
As reported by KOKC radio, transcribed by The Downtown Guy:
Oklahoma City's Amtrak service is in jeopardy of ending by September.
Ward 7 Councilwoman Willa Johnson applauds an agreement to provide security at the Bricktown train station. But Mayor Mick Cornett says the federal government doesn't appear to be interested in keeping the train service to Fort Worth going so the state legislature needs to financially help keep the affordable transportation. Mayor Cornett estimates the cost of keeping Amtrak alive to be about 3 million dollars for the fiscal year.
The Heartland Flyer is the state's only railroad passenger service. And it's been getting more riders lately; during the fourth quarter of 2004, 14,062 riders took the train, up 27 percent from the fourth quarter of 2003. The track itself is getting some much-needed upgrades this spring.
Even with the additional riders, this route, like most Amtrak routes outside the BosWash corridor, is losing money, and there's always the question of whether the government should subsidize this sort of thing at all. Right now, though, I'm not going to gripe much if the state does kick in $3 million to support the train, which is admittedly a triumph of "Wow, cool" over cold sober reflection. Some days I do that.Posted at 8:00 AM to City Scene