Sunday, August 02, 2015

State To Pay Over $3 Million To Provide Indy To Chicago Amtrak Service Four Days A Week

The Pence administration announced it has reached an agreement with Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings to provide daily Amtrak service between Indianapolis and Chicago four days a week to ensure daily service between the two cities continues. The Cardinal Line that runs from Chicago to Washington, D.C. three days a week will offer passenger rail transportation on the other three days of the week the Hoosier State Line is not operating.

According to the Indianapolis Star, the Indiana Department of Transportation will pay Iowa Pacific a $255,000 a month subsidy, or $3,060,000 per year, for the initial two-year agreement. Lafayette area communities will also chip in $21,000 a month in additional subsidies to allow for a stop in that city, providing an annual subsidy of over $3.3 million to Iowa Pacific when added to the state subsidy. One-way coach fares will cost between $24 and $48. Not bad for a passenger line that carries on average about 178 people per day, which translates into a subsidy of about $89 per passenger.

Amtrak provides the train, crew and manages ticketing and reservations. Iowa Pacific provides train equipment and maintenance, food service and marketing services. Iowa Pacific, a Chicago-based privately-owned company, will supposedly share 25% of any profits it makes from operating the Hoosier State Line with the Indiana Department of Transportation. The Megabus seems like a better deal for taxpayers and passengers. Their fares are cheaper without any government subsidies, and the travel time on a Megabus is at least an hour shorter.


Anonymous said...

I read news like this and I have to believe more than ever the guy I voted for governor is an incompetent administrator; I will never vote for this old man ever again for any office he might seek. The GOP wonders why this Republican and Republicans like me no longer whole hog supporting "the party" with a single ticket vote. I am convinced the only way to send a message the groupthink, entrenched establishment types like our own goofy Kyle Walker and the national RINO Reince Priebus and the card carrying political moron Karl Rove will ever understand is to refuse to vote for the establishment picks they push upon us. I don't care if my refusal to vote results in a Democrat governor here in Indiana or another Marxist communist worse than the Marxist communist sympathizer in the white house we are now nationally cursed with ... I'm just done with lousy choices.

Anonymous said...

Ordinary trains can over 90 mph, easy.

As a crow flies, it's 140 miles to Union Station, Chicago.

Amtrak takes five hours from Indy to Chicago.

That's why nobody is on it.

Gary R. Welsh said...

When I lived in Springfield, Illinois years ago, I sometimes took the train to Chicago. It was cheap because of the discount they offered to state employees who rode it. Springfield is about the same distance from Chicago as Indianapolis. That train trip took a little over 3 hours. You could drive it in about the same time if you ran a tad over the speed limit.

Anonymous said...

Megabus is great .... If the bus doesn't crash ...

Sir Hailstone said...

"Ordinary trains can over 90 mph, easy."

Not on US freight tracks with at-grade crossings they don't. There's hundreds of grade crossings on the Hoosier State/Cardinal rail line, many of which are marked with just a crossbuck. That's how it is for most Amtrak lines. They're lucky to run 50 MPH on that line. Through Indy, Lafayette, and going into Chicago it runs 30, maybe 35 MPH.

Even the "speedy" Amtrak Northeast Corridor which runs Boston to New York to Washington, DC is only able to go over 60 MPH in short sections through Maryland. Unlike most rail lines in the US, the NEC has NO grade crossings. However because the corridor is shared by multiple commuter lines (NJ Transit, MBTA in Boston, SEPTA in Philly) and runs over corridor that dates back to the New York Central and Pennsylvania Railroad days of 100 years ago. Its restricted in the speed it can run safely. Just look at what happened when the northbound NEC took a curve in Philly too fast. There's an effort by Amtrak to upgrade the NEC to run 150 MPH trains over the route which would make the train a faster alternative to air travel in the Northeast - and currently has a $151 Billion price tag that is currently unfunded by Congress.

"Megabus is great .... If the bus doesn't crash ..."

Yerrrssssss..... their safety record isn't the greatest right now. And it goes over the same chronically congested I-65.

Anonymous said...

Supply and Demand. Something first taught in high school. Currently there is NO demand for train service because it is too slow and there are not enough arrivals for the passengers to desire it. The passengers are better off to drive or take a bus.

This is an example of Government waste. The train should either be eliminated or modified to allow multiple arrival times in reasonable travel times.

Anonymous said...

"Iowa Pacific, a Chicago-based privately-owned company, will supposedly share 25% of any profits it makes from operating the Hoosier State Line with the Indiana Department of Transportation".
Interesting that the Star did not go one step further and find out what/if there has been any profit in the past. (Has there been a profit? IDK.
The train runs 4 days a week or 16 days a month. 250K ÷ 16 comes to $15,625 a day.
Try selling that to the taxpayers in Fort Wayne, Richmond and those in the southeastern part of the State.

Sir Hailstone said...

"Interesting that the Star did not go one step further and find out what/if there has been any profit in the past. (Has there been a profit? IDK"

It's well known Amtrak has yet to turn a profit since its inception in the 1970's and likely won't. What was intended to be a self-sustaining entity has not turned out that way. Amtrak now holds the position that rail service in the US cannot compete against the speed and volume of airlines on fares alone and will require some sort of subsidy for the foreseeable future in either direct fare subsidies or government paying for future line upgrades.
The only Amtrak rail line that is closest to break-even is the high volume NEC. The Hoosier Line along all of the other intra-state services like the Illinois state service and the California service are heavily subsidized by their respective states. This isn't limited to just Amtrak. We're paying subsidies for NICTD - better known as the South Shore Railroad.