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Lawmaker: Ridership Key To Amtrak Funding

Amtrak is asking the state for subsidies even as the Hoosier State Line lost riders during the past year.

The head of Indiana’s State Budget Committee says if Amtrak officials want money from the state to help subsidize one of the federal rail carriers lines between Indianapolis and Chicago, they would be wise to look at how much they ask the state to subsidize per ride.

Amtrak’s Hoosier State line is the least-ridden of any regular line Amtrak runs and it actually lost riders from fiscal year 2011 to fiscal year 2012.  As such, Amtrak wants the state of Indiana to kick in money to keep it running.

Noblesville State Senator Luke Kenley, who heads the State Budget Committee, says the state’s interest in such a plan may come down to a balance between how much is requested and how many people ride the rails.

“If we have 35,000 uses a year on that line and we’re asked to put in $5 million, then that’s about $150 for each ride that Indiana would be asked to subsidize.”

Kenley says the request may be coming at a bad time politically, too.  The federal government is also asking states to make arrangements to pay for part of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act during the two years which will be covered in Indiana’s next budget.

Stan Jastrzebski

WFIU/WTIU News Senior Editor Stan Jastrzebski spent time as a reporter with WGN Radio in Chicago and as an editor at Network Indiana, an Indianapolis news service. Stan is the winner of awards from the Associated Press, the RTDNA, the Indiana Broadcasters Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. He hosts WFIU's Ask the Mayor and anchors WTIU's InFocus.

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