Two politicos and a chamberman staged a train buff rally at the Boise Depot Monday before a small crowd of enthusiasts and city employees who applauded the arrival of a locomotive and the announcement it was made in Boise.
Senior Sen. Mike Crapo, Mayor Dave Bieter and Chamber of Commerce Pres. Bill Connors urged the crowd to send positive comments to Crapo in support AMTRAK resuming service to Boise after a 12 year hiatus. PHOTO: Connors, Crapo and Bieter
There was no apparent opposition to be heard in the “rally-type” setting.
They had absolutely no factual information with regard to costs, who pays, schedules, frequency of trains or any other hard facts. It appears the event was aimed pretty much at garnering “support for passenger train service.”
Crapo’s office was supposed to get some preliminary data from AMTRAK by the end of July, but the agency failed to deliver. Nonetheless, Senior Crapo said their were positive indications the analysis currently being undertaken by a private consultant would be favorable to resuming AMTRAK service in Boise.
IF the model of other states is any indication, the route will be highly subsidized and Boise and/or Idaho taxpayers will be expected to kick in with some cash. In essence we will have to PAY riders to come to our City just like we pay businesses to come here with their high paying jobs.
Crapo said he would be one of the first to ride the train, but when asked if he would make it policy for his staff and himself to ride it to Eastern Idaho, he said he would also have to fly and drive. So much for public policy supporting train ridership.
Meanwhile there is no clear intent with regard to the assets of Boise City. The City owns both the Depot and 18 miles of track which currently serves as a parking lot for some of the Union Pacific’s fleet of 60,000 idle freight cars.
Boise GUARDIAN has the following concerns:
–How much will it cost?
–How many riders are expected ?
–How often will it run?
–Will the Depot cease to be a venue for catering events as it is today?
–Will the Depot be opened to the public as a waiting room or will AMTRAK operations be relegated to the office space on the east end of the Depot?
–Can AMTRAK afford to pay for the upgrade and maintenance to the 18 miles of track along with installation of crossing signals on Kuna-Mora Road or will Boise taxpayers foot the bill?
–The airport is run as a self-funded “enterprise fund” by the City. Will they do the same with AMTRAK or will they compete with themselves?
There are two answers covering all the questions. “WE DON’T KNOW” and “THAT DEPENDS.”
Boise City Council candidate Lucas Baumbach attended the rally and followed with a press release critical of the return of AMTRAK. He said it would compete with the airlines for long distance travel. He did support a commuter line in the release.
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