The upcoming opening of the St. Louis Gateway Transportation Center (a project once mistaken for a snipe) made me think a little bit about Amtrak. Passenger ridership on Amtrak has declined precipitously in Missouri over the past decade, despite a national trend in the opposite direction. According to Amtrak, the system’s general inability to arrive or depart on time because of rail bottlenecks between St. Louis and Kansas City discourages passengers.
A bill in the Missouri General Assembly that is supported by MoDOT would help some, identifying $10 million to build some new track along the most congested parts of the route and add message boards at unstaffed stations. Missouri currently spends about $8 million subsidizing Amtrak, a number that seems too low to do much good for passenger rail service in the state and too much for the number of Missourians who actually ride the trains. Fixing the bottlenecks to increase ridership is a smart idea.