On Thursday, May 23rd, local stakeholders will take part in a meeting that will help to shape the future of the Amtrak Hoosier State line. The Hoosier State, which runs from Indianapolis to Chicago 3 times weekly, is facing elimination due to the impending loss of federal funding. This funding currently accounts for a portion of those required to operate the service. All current Amtrak routes with operations of less than 750 miles will no longer be funded with federal dollars as of October 2013 as a result of the Federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. This act requires Amtrak to develop and implement a plan for sharing costs with states on routes of 750 miles or less.
The recently adopted Indiana state budget authorized INDOT to spend a portion of it’s annualÂ discretionaryÂ funds on the Amtrak Hoosier State line, however, it is not mandated to do so. The study will evaluate three options for the Hoosier State in hopes of answering the questions about the future of the service:
- Eliminate the Hoosier State service
- Fund the service at existing levels
- Fund the service with 79mph trains, 90% On-Time performance and increased frequency
A number of factors will be used to evaluate each alternative from local, long range planning to potential impacts on residents of the affected areas where the service makes stops along the route.
I do not have much more information about this at this point in time. Suffice to say, we love increased multi-modal transportation options here at Urban Indy, and increased frequency and speed out of the existing Amtrak offerings would be a tremendous boost for those who visit Chicago for business or pleasure. We will do our best to keep everyone informed as we learn more about what INDOT decides.