I'm excited... you can probably tell by all the exclamation points.
Contact information:People, not speed.
Andrew Bremer, Executive Director
March 7, 2008
ALL ABOARD OHIO APPLAUDS GOVERNOR STRICKLAND AND ORDC
Options for Cleveland - Columbus - Cincinnati Service Sought (Columbus, OH)
All Aboard Ohio is grateful to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for asking Amtrak to investigate the potential ridership and costs of starting fast, convenient and modern passenger rail service in Ohio's busiest and most populous travel corridor. Starting passenger train services on existing, high-quality freight railroad tracks linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati means that congested freight infrastructure "choke points" will need to be addressed.
The ultimate goal of this effort is for Ohio to encourage and accommodate more economic growth in an energy efficient, environmentally friendly manner. Train stations will be located in walkable town centers and serve as magnets for private investment and local transportation.
With fuel prices at record highs, rail traffic is also at or near record highs. Amtrak in 2007 carried more travelers than in any single year in its 36-year history. U.S. freight railroads carried more carloads of traffic in 2006 than at any time in the industry's 170-year history; 2007 was their second-busiest year.
"Travelers and shippers who are mindful of their finances are increasingly turning to railroads for their transportation needs," said All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Andrew Bremer. "If Ohio wants to compete for residents and businesses, Ohio needs to ensure that this mode of transportation is available to its citizens, visitors and shippers, too."
Fourteen states already have partnerships with Amtrak to provide passenger train services and to improve and modernize rail infrastructure in those states. As the seventh-most populous state in the nation, Ohio is also the most populous state which does not yet have a service partnership with Amtrak. Columbus is the most populous metro area in the nation without any regularly scheduled passenger trains. The Greater Dayton-Springfield area is in America's top-10 largest population centers with no passenger trains. Cincinnati has Amtrak trains only three days a week, all in the middle of the night. Cleveland and Toledo have slightly better passenger train services.
In addition to downtown stations in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, other potential stations could be located at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Galion, Delaware, Columbus-Crosswoods, Springfield, Middletown and Sharonville. The Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati (3-C) Corridor, which is wholly within Ohio, is being targeted by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) as part of its comprehensive Ohio Hub System rail plan. Other Ohio Hub routes are interstate, such as Cleveland - Youngstown - Pittsburgh and Cleveland - Toledo - Detroit, and are being sought jointly by ORDC, regional and state transportation agencies and federal officials.
"I applaud Gov. Strickland for taking this first step and showing leadership in recognizing the potential of rail development in Ohio," Bremer added. "Many other states have already seen remarkable benefits from the implementation of passenger rail services with Amtrak from Maine all the way to California.”
More than 50 million people travel in Ohio's 3-C Corridor each year, mostly by car. The Ohio Department of Transportation spends more than 98 percent of its annual $3.8 billion budget on highways. Options to driving are either inconvenient, expensive or both. A round-trip flight between Cleveland and Columbus, with a two-week advance purchase, costs more than $600. For bus travel, Greyhound's nationwide service cuts have left many Ohio cities with fewer or no buses. For example, it is impossible to arrive in Cleveland or Columbus by Greyhound bus before 10 a.m. (when many business meetings start) if someone departs from either city after 4:30 a.m.
"On the train, business travelers, college students, seniors, tourists and others can work, sleep, socialize, read, watch a DVD or enjoy a snack and beverage while traveling affordably, comfortably and rapidly," Bremer said. "This isn't an amenity when Ohio's competition is already offering it. Passenger rail is an essential service for improving the quality of life and economic future for Ohioans."
A 2001 survey by the Ohio State University showed 74 percent of Ohioans believed that improved passenger train services would improve their quality of life, and 80 percent of Ohioans want the state to develop passenger train services.
All Aboard Ohio! is a state-wide non-profit organization based in Columbus, Ohio, advocating for improved public transit and the development of the Ohio Hub Plan. More information can be found at www.allaboardohio.org.