Your daily source of fresh takes on news affecting America's passengers. See also the weekly NARP Hotline.

New ARP Takes Root in Missouri and Illinois

Written By Jenna Jablonski MIRPA already has 140 members, a quarter of which also belong to NARP. Fifty passenger rail advocates gathered at the Kirkwood Amtrak Station on January 11 for the inaugural meeting of the Missouri-Illinois Rail Passenger Association (MIRPA). Of the fifty guests, 35 were MIRPA members and 15 were visitors. Seven members from western Missouri traveled in on Amtrak. NARP member Rich Eichhorst led the meeting, introducing Missouri Representative Rick Stream to add

2014 Kicks Off With Huge Week for Trains

Written By Sean Jeans Gail With the 92nd annual meeting of the Transportation Research Board in Washington, D.C., two critical transportation hearings in Congress, and a $1.1 trillion federal budget in the final stages of negotiations, the stars were aligned to ensure a hectic week in transportation. For transportation advocates, events didn’t let them down. Here’s a roundup of Washington’s action-packed transportation week: Passenger Trains in the Big Appropriations Bill: The dominan

The long term rides on the rails

Written By Colin Leach Political scientists and public policy scholars have often spoken of a particular problem that vexes policymakers, politicians, and the general public. “Short-termism”, as it is termed, refers to the unique combination of politics and political economy that puts a premium on actions for the benefit of the here and now. Politicians, more interested in immediate results for political advantage, often embrace policies that are not necessarily sustainable in the long t

California Trains Get Big Boost in Governor's Budget

Written By Sean Jeans Gail Governor Jerry Brown sent a big message of support for passenger rail with today’s state budget announcement, identifying $300 million for rail modernization. And it’s encouraging for more than just the state’s 220 mph high speed rail project. The Governor’s budget will benefit passengers who rely on Amtrak California, commuter trains, and light rail. Critically, that means Californians won’t have to wait 10 years or more to see the fruits of this investm

Iowans Shouldn't Have to Wonder "What If?"

Written By Colin Leach For many years now, rail advocates in Iowa have worked hard for the restoration of regular service to the eastern part of the state. From 1974 to 1981, Amtrak ran the Black Hawk , which offered a daily connection between Dubuque and Chicago. While the Black Hawk was discontinued following a decrease in Illinois state funding, advocates have maintained that the route would be popular. In 2010, their efforts were rewarded when the federal government issued a $230 million

2013: Holding the Line While Building for the Future

Written By Colin Leach For rail advocates, 2013 began under a cloud of uncertainty. However, thanks to the tireless work of NARP members across the country, 2013 witnessed many key victories that will serve as a basis for expansion and growth in 2014. Washington’s perennial fiscal and political woes aside, 2013 was a particularly important year for rail advocates due to the coming into force of the 2008 Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act’s Section 209. Section 209 mandated tha

It's the externalities, stupid!

Written By Colin Leach Amtrak's Pere Marquette stops at Grand Rapids, MI. Photo Credit: Jim Hulsebus While millions of Americans are busy heading home for the holidays, opponents of passenger rail are hard at work rehashing tired attacks. One such attack appeared in this morning’s edition of the Detroit News. Michigan taxpayers, the newspaper contended, “should not be dinged” to keep Amtrak services in the state running. At a time of tight budgets and limited transportation dollars, th

Less convenience=lower ridership

Written By Malcolm Kenton On Wednesday, we warned rail transit advocates not to fall into the trap of always accepting the mantra of “build it and they will come.” Successful transit services require careful planning to make sure they are serving a broad market and will make using them as convenient as possible. But there is plenty of evidence to show that, when planned right, increased transit service does tend to attract higher patronage. And, as we’ve seen in the case of the “Princet

The federal bias towards roads and cars

Written By Ross Capon The pro-highway federal bias is clearly illustrated in these two ways, among others. First, when general funds are transferred into the Highway Trust Fund, they become encumbered with the same restrictions as revenues generated by the gasoline tax and the other ‘normal’ Highway Trust Fund sources. This means they usually cannot be used for intercity passenger rail projects, and have the same restrictions regarding use for transit as those ‘normal’ HTF sources.Int

Building Transit Right, in the Heart of America’s Car Culture

Written By Sean Jeans Gail Smart transportation advocates often find themselves fighting against the “build it, and they will come” trope: the proposition that high ridership and real estate development will always result from the construction of new transit service. It is an idea that masks the hard planning work that underlies all successful transit systems, and is often used by anti-transit groups to paint smart growth advocates as idealists whose notions have little relation to realit