State commits annual $3.8M to Pittsburgh-Harrisburg Amtrak line
State leaders are committing $3.8 million a year to save a passenger rail route that Amtrak acknowledges is “not as efficient or as useful as it might be.”
Supporters of Amtrak's Pennsylvanian, which provides the only passenger rail service between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, say the daily round trip is vital to communities and outperforms most routes in the railroad's system.
Gov. Tom Corbett said in March the state would pay $3.8 million a year to subsidize the Pennsylvanian with money from a proposed increase in state transportation funding, which state lawmakers have yet to approve. Amtrak sought state money because a change in federal law requires it to share costs with state governments for routes up to 750 miles.
Amtrak government relations official Ray Lang said Thursday during a legislative committee hearing Downtown that he supports the funding deal.
But, he testified, “I should note that the service, as currently constituted, is not as efficient or as useful as it might be. … One daily round trip is typically not going to be relevant to the business traveler.”
Expanding service likely would require more state money, although Lang did not say how much it might cost to add round trips.
Mark Spada, secretary of Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail, thinks extra trips are needed.
“Some still view the Pennsylvanian as a train that few ride along a route that should not be served,” but the route's performance numbers tell a different story, Spada said.
The Pennsylvanian carried a record 212,006 riders between Pittsburgh and New York in the fiscal year that ended in September, and through the first six months of this fiscal year its ticket revenue is up 14 percent over the same period a year ago, Spada said, citing Amtrak's latest monthly performance report.
“That was the largest percentage increase of any train on the Amtrak system,” he said.
Spada said the Pennsylvanian fills about 60 percent of its seats, on average, compared to 40 percent for higher-speed Keystone Service trains that run 13 daily round trips between Harrisburg and New York. Amtrak's average is 53 percent.
Tom Fontaine is a Trib Total Media staff writer. Reach him at 412-320-7847 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Report linking field surface to cancer elicits Mt. Lebanon protest
- Ferrante cyanide trial to resume Friday with doctors, investigators on stand
- Man shot, killed after leaving Elliott bar early Friday
- Unexpected work delays Allegheny health department’s move into former morgue
- VA promotion for administrator stuns legislator
- Contempt citation sought by state against Highmark for alleged violation of deal with UPMC
- Move-in begins at new homes on site of Hill District housing project
- Pittsburgh’s Veterans Day parade moves to Saturday
- Allegheny County health officials call on retirement homes to stay vigilant on Legionella prevention
- Newsmaker: Robert E. Neely
- Parkway West off-ramps at Carnegie to close beginning Friday night