Four Proposals For Amtrak “Hoosier State”
May 6, 2014 — Indiana Public Broadcasting –The state and local communities along the “Hoosier State” passenger route are considering five proposals aimed at improving the rail line between Indianapolis and Chicago. Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports:
Federal support for the Hoosier State Line ran out last year and the state, along with local communities along the line that include Lafayette, Indianapolis and Rensselaer, stepped up to subsidize it. Indiana is now seeking ways to improve the line through private partnerships – and four companies, in addition to Amtrak, which currently runs the line, have submitted proposals. Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield says unlike typical construction proposals, which usually come down to construction costs and time, the state’s request was broader and its evaluation will be more subjective:
“The greatest opportunities are to increase ridership through marketing or through changing timing or perhaps on-time performance but we’ve seen on other services where Wi-Fi can help draw in more riders so they can be productive during the travel, so we’ve kept it wide open in the hopes that we can have some creative ideas.”
Wingfield says reducing the cost to taxpayers will also be a major factor in determining which proposal to choose, as he says the Hoosier State Passenger Rail service has one of the highest per-passenger mile costs for taxpayers in the country.