SPRINGFIELD—Local officials from across Western Illinois and the state testified about the effects on state universities and colleges of a proposed 40 percent cut to Amtrak funding during a Senate committee hearing Tuesday.
Retired Macomb Mayor and current Amtrak board member Tom Carper, Spoon River College President Curt Oldfield, Western Illinois University Admissions Director Andrew Borst and Go West Transit Director Jude Kiah testified before the Senate Higher Education Committee.
State Senator John Sullivan (D-Rushville) serves on the committee.
“There is a clear connection between the economies of Macomb, Quincy, Galesburg and the entire region—they are all tied together by Amtrak. We should be looking into improving passenger rail service, not scaling it back.” Sullivan said.
The 40 percent reduction would eliminate one daily trip between Quincy and Chicago, reducing service to only one train.
“In 1971 the state began contracting with the newly formed Amtrak to run passenger service between Chicago and the state universities in Central, Southern and Western Illinois. It’s ironic that almost 45 years later we’re talking about preserving passenger rail service to Illinois’ colleges and universities,” Carper said.