Nothing smart about cutting Amtrak in Illinois

July 19, 2015

Clearly, the state of Illinois is in a fiscal crisis. It is incumbent upon our elected leaders to fix the crisis and turn the state around. We cannot cut our way out of this situation. But cuts are inevitable.

Our elected officials will have to make “smart” cuts. Right now, one of the cuts being considered is a potential 40 percent cut in funding to state subsidized Amtrak service. Infrastructure and transportation creates jobs and drives the economy. Making cuts to transportation is not a smart cut. State Amtrak funding does not compete with education or pension funding. It also does not compete with funding for other important state services.

Higher education is a major economic driver in the state of Illinois. On the I-57 corridor, Amtrak provides service to three major Illinois economic drivers: Southern and Eastern Illinois universities and the University of Illinois. This is why the corridor is often referred to as the “Knowledge Corridor.”

Last summer, IDOT completed a feasibility study that stated that the I-57 corridor could actually support two additional daily trains. The corridor is only served by three daily trains. We cannot afford to lose service on the Knowledge Corridor. It would negatively impact the economies of the communities served by Amtrak, including Chicago.

 

Read the full opinion piece by Laura Weis of the Champaign (Illinois) County Chamber of Commerce in The Southern Illinoisan by clicking here.

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