Amtrak ridership in Iowa broke a record for the federal budget year that ended in September. More than 66,000 passengers boarded trains at Iowa stations – an increase of 3% over the previous year. Richard Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, says it was highest level of ridership in Iowa since congress created Amtrak in 1971.
“It proves once again that people really want to have high quality passenger trains and it’s time for us to create the policies that will make that possible around the entire country,” Harnish said. Proposals are pending for Chicago to Dubuque service and a Chicago to Iowa City train stopping in the Quad Cities.
“Governor Culver has become a really strong leader on this issue…so, the next step is to make this a higher priority in the general assembly and start finding the way to get the money to actually make this stuff happen very quickly,” Harnish said. Amtrak currently operates two daily trains that pass through southern Iowa. Nationwide, Amtrak had its second-best year ever for ridership, with trains carrying nearly 27.2 million passengers.