Transit Poor, Oklahoma struggles to understand rail
March 28, 2017
In search of supporters we attempt to tap all walks of life. Sometimes this is incredibly frustrating. Most difficult is selling the concept of rail transportation in a region devoid of convenient options to the automobile.
More than a few fiscal fundamentalists in Oklahoma continue to ask the question, “Is Amtrak profitable yet?” These same people seem confused when you play the counterpoint card. Would you place toll booths at the end of your driveway and at every intersection to support roads? They do not have an answer for the disparate public support for highways over passenger rail.
The mindset needs to change. Oklahoma does not have a tax problem. Oklahoma has a tax revenue problem. Tax cuts have proven not to improve our economy. But what does this have to do with passenger rail?
The Oklahoma City Downtown Streetcar will likely bring some fiscal sanity to the subject. It will spur some transit oriented development in the urban core. Will the mustard seed grow? If the metro area is like Dallas/ Fort Worth in the 1990’s you bet it will. It will revolutionize how Oklahomans look at mass transportation.
Trump budget seeks to end Amtrak's LD network but Congress holds purse strings
March 26, 2017
President Trump has proposed zeroing out federal funding for long distance Amtrak services. Long distance services in the area include trains such as the Chicago-St. Louis-Dallas/Fort Worth-San Antonio Texas Eagle and Chicago-Kansas City-Albuquerque-Los Angeles Southwest Chief.
State supported corridors depend on the long distance network for survival. The Oklahoma City-Fort Worth, Heartland Flyer and the St. Louis-Kansas City Missouri River Runners depend upon long distance services for ridership. A loss of these long distance services would likely end most state supported services as ridership would drop by at least 30 percent.
This is not the first time a politician has proposed such a zero budget. However, every political game is different. How negotiations will play out is unknown.
Is this a crisis? Not yet, but it is also a good time to remind Senators Inhofe and Lankford; and Representatives Bridenstine, Mullin, Lucas, Cole, and Russell of your concern. Let them know you use the Heartland Flyer and it is important to the state economy. They hold the purse strings.
Contact information for Oklahoma’s Washington D.C. delegation is included on the GovTrack website: https://www.govtrack.us/congress/members/OK
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