Proposed Amtrak plan could benefit the Kansas economy

Kansas

An Amtrak train waits at a platform prior to its departure at Union Station November 22, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — President Biden’s proposed transportation bill includes billions of dollars to improve Amtrak routes. According to economist Jeremy Hill, more passengers boarding a train in Kansas can have a positive economic impact on our state. 

County Commissioner Pete Meiztner said that one of the biggest obstacles in getting similar proposals approved in the past was the money it would cost to allow a passenger train to pass through the same routes as freight trains. 

“But with this bill, and with Amtrak’s feeling, what they want to do, those costs will be absorbed in the federal and Amtrak budget, not in our state budget,” Meitzner said. 

If the proposal is passed it can mean improvements in Kansas’ transportation infrastructure with much less cost to the state. 

“It helps us put us on the map of the transportation world as far as Amtrak goes,” Meitzner said.

Jeremy Hill said being miles away from other major cities with no rail option, is something that stunts our region’s economic growth. 

“Too hard to get for someone to do a business, easy quick business travel,” Hill said. 

The proposed Amtrak route would connect Wichita directly to Oklahoma City and Dallas. “This would really open those markets up for us,” Hill said.

Hill said the possible new rail routes would also help keep the cost of other forms of travel down. “The more competition you have, the better it will help with overall prices,” Hill said.

The bill has a way to go before being approved, but Meitzner said he is optimistic. “We’ve worked a lot on this, and it’s getting, it’s getting closer,” Meitzner said. 

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