Amtrak to Tallahassee at a Standstill

By: City of Tallahassee Release, Lanetra Bennett Email
By: City of Tallahassee Release, Lanetra Bennett Email

UPDATE -- May 24, 2012 --

Tallahassee Mayor John Marks and the city commission had a joint Mayor/Chair meeting with the Leon County Commissioners Thursday, May 24th.

Of note on the agenda is an update on the efforts to bring Amtrak back to Tallahassee. Congress does not want to put any money into the proposal at this time, and members of both the Leon County commissioners and city commission feel there is nothing more they can do about it right now.

Both sides agreed this will be their last joint meeting until at least September.

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Tallahassee, Leon Co. Officials Want Passenger Train Service Back

Updated by Lanetra Bennett - Tallahassee, FL - Feb. 27, 2012 -

As gasoline prices approach $4 a gallon, local officials say alternative transportation is much needed.

That alternative, they say, should be the train; which they say is 30 percent more efficient than driving.

Freight trains come through this area. But, local officials say it's time for passengers to be able to hop on board.

Tallahassee resident Daniel Pineau says he's always been very fond of riding the train. "Riding the train is a wonderful experience. My whole childhood was about trains."

Local leaders are urging federal and state lawmakers to restore Amtrak passenger service to North Florida.

Robert Stewart, Chairman of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, says, "Tallahassee, a state capital in a state that's going to be number third in the nation in size, should have rail service."

Amtrak passenger service was suspended in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina caused damage to part of the Sunset Limited Route from New Orleans to Jacksonville.

The tracks have been repaired enough for freight train traffic, but, not for passenger service.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Nancy Miller says, "Not only do we not have access to that method of transportation, it also means that we don't have access to the economic stimulus that occurs in places where train stops are located."

County commissioners say Tallahassee's train station was built in 1858, making it the oldest Amtrak station on the national register of historic places.

They say, sadly enough, though, it's the only Amtrak station not in operation as a train station.

Stewart says, "If somebody says to you, nobody rides the trains. That's a bunch of bologna. People are riding the trains. People want an alternative to fly and to drive today, and the train is the answer."

Commissioners say the building has been kept up over the years and is already ready to go. The only thing they're waiting on is the passenger service.

Local leaders urge residents to contact members of Congress to voice their support of restoring service to the region. See the press release below for information on how you can do that.

__________________________________

PRESS RELEASE:

Tallahassee, Florida - Feb. 27, 2012 -

City of Tallahassee and Leon County officials, joined by representatives from cities and counties throughout North Florida, gathered at the Tallahassee Amtrak station today, urging federal and state transportation officials to restore Amtrak passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville. The group called upon citizens to contact their state and federal elected officials and voice their support for restoring service to the region.

Through the leadership of the Tallahassee City Commission, over 15 resolutions have been received from local governments and organizations throughout North Florida, calling for the restoration of Amtrak passenger rail service to the region.

“Reestablishing Amtrak passenger service through North Florida will strengthen our local economies and offer new opportunities for our citizens,” said Tallahassee Mayor John Marks. “North Florida communities have waited nearly seven years for the restoration of passenger rail, and we respectfully urge Congress and the legislature to resume this service.”

There has been no Amtrak passenger rail service in North Florida since 2005, when Hurricane Katrina caused damage to part of the Sunset Limited Route from New Orleans to Jacksonville. Repairs enabled the restoration of freight train traffic; however, Amtrak has not reestablished passenger service along this portion of the Sunset Limited Route. The federal Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008 required Amtrak to submit a plan to restore passenger rail service between New Orleans, Louisiana and Jacksonville/Sanford, Fla., but the necessary steps detailed in this plan have yet to be implemented.

“As gasoline prices reach $4 a gallon, North Florida residents are seeking alternative modes of transportation,” said Tallahassee City Commissioner Nancy Miller. “Since Amtrak service is 30 percent more efficient than travel by car, rail transit should be an option for Tallahassee and other communities throughout North Florida.”

The State of Florida plans to spend $118 million to reestablish service from Miami to Jacksonville, yet there has been no further effort to resume passenger service for North Florida. In light of this situation, the following local governments and organizations have passed resolutions supporting the restoration of Amtrak service and the Sunset Limited Route:

· City of Tallahassee

· City of Madison

· City of Pensacola

· City of Marianna

· City of Quincy

· City of Perry

· City of Live Oak

· City of Milton

· City of DeFuniak Springs

· Leon County

· Escambia County

· Madison County

· Franklin County

· Wakulla County

· Gadsden County

· Northwest Florida League of Cities/ Suwannee River League of Cities

The resolutions will be delivered to Governor Rick Scott and leadership within the state legislature and the U.S. Congress. In addition, citizens are encouraged to contact their state and federal elected officials, respectfully urging them to support the restoration of North Florida passenger rail service. A link to do so is available on the Mayor's Talgov.com web page, located at http://www.talgov.com/mayor/index.cfm.

“Passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville is a strategically important component of the national intercity passenger train system,” said Robert J. Stewart, chairman of the National Association of Railroad Passengers. “This route segment will serve an unmet need by connecting Florida with the southern and western United States.”

For more information about the restoration of Amtrak passenger rail service between New Orleans and Jacksonville, please review Amtrak’s P.R.I.I.A. Section 226 Gulf Coast Service Plan Report.


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  • by jasper mcmillan Location: United States on Jun 10, 2012 at 05:41 PM
    Amtrak and U.S. Government have a very poor idea of what a national passenger network should look like. The Gulf Coast should have received priority for the re-establishment of passenger service after Katrina, yet wasn't because Amtrak had its eye on other avenues of service outside of the Gulf Coast and had been looking for an excuse to cancel the Sunset east of New Orleans. Admittedly, Freight operators had a hand in the fiasco in the manner in which they handled and STILL handle passenger trains. I once had the pleasure of witnessing CSX put the east bound Sunset Limited into a siding between Pensacola and Crestview and then leaving it there for several hours while it ran freights with absolutely no regard for the people on-board! Europeans view their passenger trains as a part of their essential infrastructure whereas the U.S. in the form of Amtrak, views ITS passenger rail network (outside of its pet corridors in Cali, the Northeast and a few other choice locations)as a luxury. They greedily gobble up our tax dollars every year while arrogantly denying a great many of us even the most basic of services. Alabama has the right idea. They are currently launching a study to look into the possibility of establishing an independent rail service to link up three of their largest cities. We direly need competition in the passenger rail industry. It has become very obvious that Amtrak, as a national passenger rail service, has failed miserably!
  • by The Taxpay Yours on May 26, 2012 at 04:35 PM
    But the Prison Bus to Lake Butler Prison is full! What does this tell you?
  • by Elbert on May 25, 2012 at 11:27 AM
    Exactly the reason Scott wouldn't go for the high speed rail. Tax payers can't afford!!!!!!! Do you get it now?????
  • by John153 Location: Tallahassee on May 25, 2012 at 10:11 AM
    I believe if the ridership numbers proved it the trains would already be restored and running. If so many people want to ride a train why is Amtrak government subsidized? Why isn't there a private company doing this? I do not want more of my hard earned income going to support these trains. Just say NO!
  • by Euro Non Trash on May 25, 2012 at 08:34 AM
    The Americans are not silly. Their country is quite large, unlike Europe where an entire country is the size of just one of the states in the US. Therefore, it becomes unattractive statistically & financially to put public transportation as a first-front issue. The Americans I know would absolutely object to paying for a renewed Amtrak system in low-population, high-acreage routes. That reasoning is solid, not "so silly" and "catch up to the rest of us" is uncalled for. Americans are the best friends Euro folks ever had.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 05:29 PM in reply to Euro Non Trash
      America is a sick joke compared to the rest of the world when it comes to transportation. The US is below a lot a third world nations in mass transit.
    • reply
      by jasper mcmillan on Jun 10, 2012 at 05:56 PM in reply to Euro Non Trash
      a viable passenger rail service would work nation wide in the U.S. IF it were of the high speed variety. 150-200 miles per hour would make a rail trip between NYC and Atlanta or Chicago a viable option... But then it would take a national will (that isn't there) to build and operate it.
  • by Anonymous on May 25, 2012 at 08:18 AM
    I would rather have these federal dollar used to reduce the national debt. Don’t use them to support a rail line that only a hand full of people will utilize. Like all rail service, it requires federal assistance to survive.
  • by Captain Obvious on May 25, 2012 at 08:06 AM
    If there was significant passenger demand the train service would exist. Or at least be restored. DO some digging, this is another "hidden" was for Marks to make under the table money. Amtrack comes back, Marks makes money. Look and you will see. But you gotta look to see.
  • by Euro Trash on May 25, 2012 at 07:32 AM
    You Americans are so silly, hung up on sex, guns and your cars. Trains are much more efficient, even practical for city dwellers. Catch up to the rest of us. It is 2012, not 1012.
    • reply
      by Funny on May 25, 2012 at 10:44 AM in reply to Euro Trash
      Why would anyone want to catch up with somewhere going backwards fast?
  • by IcontactedAmtrak on May 25, 2012 at 05:35 AM
    I communicated with Amtrack back in summer of 2008 and they told me that the only delay was the nod and the money. The tracks were repaired and are ready. So do we believe Amtrak or this?
    • reply
      by jasper mcmillan on Jun 10, 2012 at 05:45 PM in reply to IcontactedAmtrak
      Amtrak has used excuse after excuse for NOT bringing back the Train. They wanted the eastern half of the route "gone" BEFORE Katrina and were looking for an excuse to rid themselves of the extended route permanently. The Hurricane gave them what they were looking for. We need competition in the passenger rail industry. Amtrak has become comfortable and extremely arrogant in their attitude towards much of the traveling public.
  • by al newman Location: tallahassee on May 25, 2012 at 04:37 AM
    Where is our congressional delegation? Southerland, rubio, nelson? Anyone there?
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