Amtrak is vital to downstate Illinois economy

July 8, 2015

Mayor Tom Carper is a member of the Amtrak Board of Directors.

I serve on the Amtrak Board of Directors, and as mayor of Macomb from 1991 to 2003, worked with local, regional and state leaders to preserve Amtrak services. Most importantly, I live in West Central Illinois where Amtrak is essential to our economy.

Downstate Illinois communities could lose nearly half of their Amtrak service if the present budget impasse continues in Springfield. It’s both ironic and unnecessary that a decade of progress would be surrendered so quietly.

Ridership on these routes has grown by nearly 140 percent since the service expansion 10 years ago. Stations are being rehabbed or replaced, including in Chicago, where the city and Amtrak are partners to improve Chicago Union Station. Businesses are beginning to locate in or near these transportation hubs, while downstate colleges and universities — both public and private — rely on Amtrak to attract students and staff from metro Chicago. We are about to let all this slip away.

 

Read Mayor Carper’s full opinion analysis in The Southern Illinoisian by clicking here.

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