217.370.8505 cory@bletislb.org

Illinois congressmen call for full funding of mass transit, passenger rail.  Illinois congressmen called for full funding for mass transit and passenger rail in a letter to a transportation subcommittee Monday.  U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, a Democrat and the only member of the Illinois delegation on the House Appropriations Committee, led the letter to the subcommittee on transportation, housing and urban development, according to a press release from his office. “Today in Chicago, transit and rail as a whole generate an estimated $12 billion in annual economic benefits and 120,000 jobs to the region,” Quigley wrote. “Without robust federal funding of transit and passenger rail, Illinois transportation systems will be subject to deteriorating roadbeds and equipment, bad on-time performance, increased traffic congestion, and loss of ridership and American jobs.”  The Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Blue Green Alliance released a report earlier this year outlining the economic benefits of increased investment in transit and passenger rail to Illinois, as well as to the entire United States, according to Quigley’s office.  http://chicago.suntimes.com/politics/7/71/464978/illinois-lawmakers-call-full-mass-transit-funding


IDOT Says Amtrak Project In Rockford May be Derailed.  SPRINGFIELD — Local lawmakers say it appears the state is leaning towards putting the brakes on possible Amtrak service to Rockford.  In a reply to state representative John Cabello, IDOT officials said there is a possibility it may be terminated. Lawmakers say it’s clear former Governor Quinn never actually allocated any money for it  and it’s under intense scrutiny by Governor Rauner.  In a statement, Rep. Cabello said, “IDOT is in a difficult fiscal situation and will have to evaluate its long-term fiscal problems before committing to the project…we must first and foremost be stewards to the taxpayers of the state.”  http://www.mystateline.com/fulltext-news/d/story/idot-says-amtrak-project-in-rockford-may-be-derail/56102/yuvlJJXaHkuk-t8IOAb7eg


Rail Advocates: Gov. Rauner’s Proposed Mass Transit Cuts Will Hurt Economic Development.   Advocates in Chicago for a regional meeting said Saturday that Gov. Bruce Rauner will shoot himself in the foot if he slashes funding for mass transit and regional Amtrak service.   Rauner has promised to go on the road in coming months to Indiana, Wisconsin and Texas to lure businesses to Illinois. But National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) Chairman Bob Stewart and other advocates at the conference said dismembering the state’s Amtrak network and slashing a proposed $130 million from the CTA’s budget would send a message business does not want to hear.  http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2015/03/21/rail-advocates-rauners-proposed-mass-transit-cuts-will-hurt-economic-development/


State transport chief delays Amtrak cars purchase.  Lansing — The state transportation chief has delayed the purchase of a set of new passenger cars for the Detroit-Chicago Amtrak route following an audit critical of his department for leasing another set of cars that are idle.  While track upgrades continue toward 110-miles-an-hour service throughout the popular passenger route, Department of Transportation Director Kirk Steudle “has asked the rail staff to complete a much more thorough review of the plan for the Amtrak cars,” department spokesman Jeff Cranson said Friday.  http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/politics/2015/03/20/state-transport-chief-delays-amtrak-cars-purchase/25121569/


Indiana Opinion: Can Hoosier State line be saved?  If there’s any glimmer of hope of saving the Hoosier State passenger rail service from Indianapolis to Chicago, it’s the growing list of players on board in condemning a Federal Railroad Administration ruling that sent the most recent contract negotiations into a skid…..  The case going to the federal agency now hinges on the state acting as a contractor — just cutting the check, as state Rep. Randy Truitt, R-West Lafayette, put it — and not the operator of the train. The Federal Railroad Administration’s party line is: The state should have the ultimate responsibility for safety in the new partnership, and that means acting as a railroad…..There has to be a way to figure this out. http://www.southbendtribune.com/news/opinion/indiana-opinion-can-hoosier-state-line-be-saved/article_a48743da-7713-5625-a49f-d44ac7db43bb.html


Another city – and U.S. senator – jumps on the Cincinnati to Chicago train.  Another Greater Cincinnati city has signed on to the campaign to bring daily Amtrak service from Cincinnati to Chicago, and U.S. Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., is urging his state and the federal government to work together to keep existing service between Indianapolis and Chicago so that it can someday be extended here.  http://m.bizjournals.com/cincinnati/news/2015/03/18/another-city-and-u-s-senator-jumps-on-the.html?ana=e_du_pub&s=article_du&ed=2015-03-18&u=YhY%2FQfXAMCgNyFrEjw9v+w0e0d9800&t=1426706605&r=full