Posts Tagged ‘Amtrak in Iowa’

Fort Madison Station Upgrades Put on Hold

April 19, 2017

Officials in Fort Madison, Iowa, say that plans for Amtrak to use a different station are on hold.

“We can’t spend tax money on this or the funds we have unless we have a good assurance that it’s going to [go] forward and stay in,” said City Manager David Varley.

He was referring to the lack of a state budget in Iowa and federal budget cuts proposed by the Trump administration that would end all funding for Amtrak long-distance trains.

Fort Madison will pony up 25 percent of the $1.2 million needed to upgrade the Santa Fe Depot for Amtrak’s use.

“We are going to do what we can on our part but at the same time we have to be responsible,” Varley said.

Fort Madison is the only stop in Iowa for Amtrak’s Chicago-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.

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Falling Gas Prices Affecting Amtrak Ridership

November 24, 2015

When gasoline prices are spiking, rail passenger advocates like to play up how taking the train is a solution to avoid high fuel prices.

But in recent years, the price of gasoline has dropped from its peak prices in 2010 and Amtrak patronage has either fallen or leveled off.

Between them, the California Zephyr and Southwest Chief serve six stations in Iowa and for fiscal year 2015, which ended on Sept. 30, ridership was 57,611, a decline of 16 percent from what it was five years ago when 68,744 used Amtrak in Iowa.

The 2015 figure is about a 1 percent increase from the 57,238 who used Amtrak in Iowa in fiscal year 2014.

Aside from falling gasoline prices, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said patronage suffered when Amtrak experienced reliability issues triggered by freight congestion on the BNSF tracks that Amtrak uses in Iowa.

“When gasoline prices get into the low $2 or lower per gallon, it tempts people to drive, even though the cost of driving is not always reflected solely in the gasoline price,” Magliari said.

The California Zephyr stops in Burlington, Mount Pleasant, Ottumwa, Osceola and Creston on its route between Chicago and Emeryville, California.

The Southwest Chief serves Fort Madison on its Chicago-Los Angeles route.

Although Amtrak’s overall ridership and revenue remained fairly steady in FY 2015, patronage and ticket revenues were down 0.1 percent compared with FY 2014.

Cost of Proposed Iowa City Route Are Rising

December 21, 2013

Finances are the latest hurdle that is hindering development of Amtrak service to Iowa City, Iowa.

Iowa officials have been studying an extension of a planned Chicago-Quad Cities route to Iowa City, which is the home of the University of Iowa.

The construction cost estimate is now $125 million, up $35 million from three years ago. The study also found that the ongoing operating subsidy requirement has shrunk dramatically.

Iowa’s share to get the route stated is now estimated at $72 million, which is triple what was proposed three years ago.

Davenport Mayor Bill Gluba called the results of the study “a huge embarrassment. Somehow Illinois’s getting this done [Chicago-Quad Cities service] and Iowa’s dragging its feet,” he said.

Iowa is in danger of losing $53 million in federal funding for the route development if the state legislature does not move forward in the next legislative session with developing the route.

Thruway Buses to Serve Ames, Des Moines

December 5, 2013

Amtrak is offering a temporary Thruway Bus connection in Iowa to the California Zephyr during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

The buses will offer a guaranteed connection with Nos. 5 and 6 at Osceola, Iowa, and serve two central Iowa cities.  Amtrak said it will be able to ticket passengers from Ames and Des Moines to more than 500 locations that it serves.

The Thruway connection buses, operated by Arrow Stage Lines, will operate between Dec. 18 and Dec. 20, 2013, and between Jan. 11 and Jan. 13, 2014.
Fares from Ames or Des Moines to Chicago start at $61 and to Denver at $98. The fares are one-way.

The buses will board passengers at the Ames Intermodal Facility and the bus depot in Des Moines.

The Amtrak station at Osceola served more than 14,000 passengers last year.