This post originally appeared on Orphan Road.
Neal Pierce, writing in the Seattle Times, tells me something I didn’t know:
But state initiatives are also vital. Wisconsin Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi heads the “States for Passenger Rail Coalition” of 30 state transportation departments appealing for an 80/20 federal-state funding split to put some real steam behind rail expansion.
Fourteen states, notes Busalacchi, already provide operating support for Amtrak corridor services — routes responsible for virtually all of Amtrak’s recent ridership gains. Cascadia service (Oregon-Washington) had 674,000 passengers last year. The “Hiawatha Service” in the Chicago-Milwaukee corridor, he boasts, has boosted ridership 48 percent, to 588,000, in the past five years, with 90 percent on-time performance.
And there have been other breakthroughs. Pennsylvania, in a 50-50 cost split with Amtrak, electrified and rehabilitated the Philadelphia-Harrisburg corridor so well it now offers 110-mile-per-hour service.