SPRINGFIELD- In 2013, more than 5 million riders at Illinois stations took over 20,160 Amtrak trains in Illinois.

The Senate’s Higher Education Committee met today to discuss the effects on state universities and colleges of Governor Rauner’s proposed 40 percent cut to Amtrak funding. Cuts in the state subsidy would result in fewer trains and takes Amtrak service expansions off the table.

CommitteeHearing5.19.15“Amtrak service in Champaign-Urbana draws prospective students to the University of Illinois,” said State Senator Scott Bennett. “Cutting funding for Amtrak is counterproductive. We need to continue to look for ways to grow rail systems in Illinois to draw more students and attract economic opportunities to central Illinois.”   

The Illini-Saluki service is the third most traveled route in Illinois. University students and their families rely on trains to visit Champaign-Urbana and return home.

“Over the past three years, I have taken 39 trips on Amtrak. I spent $528.70 on travel fares. If I had driven the 3,033 miles and was reimbursed at the state’s rate, this would have cost $1,713.65,” said Mitch Dickey, Student Body President at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.  “Amtrak is the main source of transportation for students at UIUC and an important component of my college career in Champaign.”

At the end of fiscal year 2013, Amtrak employed 1,482 Illinois residents. During this time the total wages of Amtrak employees living in Illinois were $100,310,353.

Although, Danville doesn’t have direct service, Amtrak brings economic opportunities to the region.

“We need to look at these cuts with a regional perspective. Losing transportation connectivity in Illinois puts us as a disadvantage to Indiana as businesses look for places to locate and expand,” said Scott Eisenhauer, Mayor of Danville.

 

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