Local government and business leaders are working to support continuing daily Amtrak passenger trains between Chicago and Indianapolis that could end because of a federal and state funding dispute.
Amtrak plans to end the four-day-a-week Hoosier State route — with stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer — effective October 2013. Amtrak's three-day-a-week Cardinal line that runs from Chicago through Indianapolis to the East Coast will continue.
Enhancing connections between Lafayette, Chicago and Indianapolis is one of the goals outlined in a recent community report from Greater Lafayette Commerce, organization member Arvid Olson told the Journal & Courier for a story Monday.
"It would be detrimental to reduce passenger train service to our community right at the time it has once again been identified as a key asset to retaining future leaders, especially our college-age residents," Olson said.
Amtrak and state officials plan meetings in the coming month on the estimated $4 million to $5 million a year it might cost the state to continue the service.
Amtrak says states are responsible for fully funding routes shorter than 750 miles under a funding methodology established by Congress in 2008. But state officials in Indiana disagree.
Officials in the northwestern Indiana city of Rensselaer regard the Amtrak service as a key connection with Chicago.
"Public transportation does play a part in the economy," Rensselaer Mayor Stephen Wood said. "We have people from DeMotte, Kentland and St. Joseph's College using the train service."
State Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette, said community leaders needed to be ready to get involved after Amtrak and Indiana Department of Transportation officials meet.
"It's important to be prepared in November after a new governor is elected and departments such as INDOT start presenting their budgets for internal review," Truitt said.