City Government

Derail Passenger Train Folly Now

The GUARDIAN has repeatedly pointed out the insanity of trying to reinstate passenger train service to Boise.

Politicos simply won’t take “NO” for an answer to the wish for the return to rails. There are many reasons it won’t work and yet another multi-million dollar survey is a waste of money.

Boise is pretty much midway between Salt Lake and Portland. Sort of in the “middle of nowhere.” Unless folks in those population centers want to board at midnight, Boise will once again be a “wee hours” stop. It is also cost prohibitive to offer more than a few trains a week, let alone multiple daily trains.

Going east, after Mountain Home the only towns served would be Glenns Ferry and Shoshone until Pocatello. There would be no rail service to Hagerman, Buhl, Filer, Twin Falls, Burley, Rupert, Wendell, Jerome or any of the smaller Magic Valley settlements.

Why no rail service? Because THERE ARE NO RAILS!

The idea of passenger rail service is simply a novelty based on old memories and dreams of someday being “just like the Eastern seaboard.”

We challenge local and national politicos to agree to use any future rail service for their routine government work as public policy. That would be for all conferences, meetings, and any other public business. NO PUBLIC MOTOR VEHICLES ALLOWED–just trains. It would never happen.

Please take a look at two previous GUARDIAN stories. We suggested a federal bus service we dubbed AMBUS, but it got no takers.

We also panned Sen. Mike Crapo’s SURVEY spending

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Agree, 100%

  2. You are right this is a total POL pipe dream. It didn’t work out in the past and it will not work now.

  3. David Klinger
    Feb 25, 2023, 2:57 pm

    Sorry to disagree with you, Dave, but take a look at how times have changed in the 25 years since Boise last had rail service: a.) Boise’s demographics have changed. Half the town is now refugees from Portland, Seattle, and the Bay area. Say what you want about the desirability of so many in-migrants, but potential patronage to the West Coast from a radically altered population base in Boise changes the picture drastically. Ever driven that long stretch of I-84 around Pendleton in winter? That’s your future?; b.) it’s not just about eastern Idaho where, yes, the towns are small and the spur rails don’t exist. It’s about connecting the Denver/Salt Lake eastern segment with the Portland/Seattle western termini, and all of those other “little towns” to the west of Boise that DO have rails and once had train service, like Nampa, Ontario, Baker City, La Grande, Pendleton, The Dalles, etc.; c.) it won’t work? How do you know? It’s been 25 years since passenger services was last offered in this corner of the Pacific Northwest where, yes, growth is proceeding on steroids at the moment.

    Boise was a far different place the, so if you’re relying on that as your baseline, you’re out-of-sync with what Boise has become (regrettably in many ways, in my view). And Amtrak, if you haven’t heard, has actually been increasing service and expanding lines in the East … and in some fairly rural stretches like northern Maine and central North Carolina, lest the naysayers parrot the mantra that trains only work in the crowded urban Northeast. Boise better get moving correcting its “Achilles heel” — public transportation — lest all of this explosive growth throws the Treasure Valley into gridlock very soon. You can’t sustain the “growth gleam” in the eyes of Boise’s leaders and yet ignore how all of these new people are going to need to move around. You won’t solve it by keeping everyone on the road, in their monster cowboy pickups, just by building more highways. And an inadequate city bus system, the recently-exiled interstate bus depot that was booted out of downtown Boise so more gentrification might occur, and an airport that STILL lacks direct connections to any city east of Chicago and Atlanta (off-and-on, as Boise fluctuates) do not add up to a balanced transportation system. One piece — a simple rail connection — is now within Boise’s power to restore, with a supportive rail president in the White House. Boise better seize the opportunity, and dispense with the “it’ll never work” attitude, lest you find yourselves in a bigger transportation pickle a decade from now.

  4. I would like more conversation on the feasibility of rail in Idaho. It seems like the major reason opposing this is that rail travel has to be subsidized by the government and doesn’t pay its own way. That is a nice sound bite. At least until you realize that every single road in Idaho is subsidized by the government and doesn’t pay its own way. Think about that. ITD’s 2020 appropriation was 1.2 billion. How much of that was paid for by auto owners? 3%? Rail beats the pants off highway from that perspective. I know we love our cars in the great American West, and don’t think twice about a 6 hour road trip, but there has to be a place for rail in the discussion as we move into the future.

  5. Klinger Stinger
    Mar 2, 2023, 1:45 pm

    David Klinger moved. Who cares what he thinks? Maybe he should worry about writing long-winded drivel about wherever he lives now.

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