Letter to the Editor


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Ed Board off base on Amtrak

It's unfortunate The Daily Iowan chose to publish a poorly researched, misleading editorial on the planned Amtrak route from Iowa City to Chicago ("Iowa City-Chicago Amtrak route a poor use of public funds," Nov. 4).

The surest sign of lack of research was citing the Cato Institute's Randal O'Toole as a source. A simple Google search will disclose that Cato was founded with oil-industry money and has received funding from, among others, the American Petroleum Institute, Exxon-Mobil, GM, Toyota, and Volkswagen — all of whom have a vested interest in preserving the status quo of automotive dependency. O'Toole is also a well-known "hired gun" of the highway lobby. Neither is known for having an unbiased opinion.

The Editorial Board claims that few students would use the service. This claim is contradicted by clear evidence from Illinois. Amtrak services to Champaign-Urbana and Macomb are extremely well-patronized by students from the University of Illinois and Western Illinois University. There is no evidence to suggest that UI students would be any different. Amtrak services have always been well-patronized by college students, particularly when a large urban area such as Chicago is involved.

The Editorial Board's implication that Megabus is a better deal because of its $1 fares is also suspect. The fact is, most Megabus passengers pay considerably more than $1 to ride. Furthermore, Megabus makes money because, like all highway carriers, it doesn't pay the full cost of the roads over which it operates. In Chicago, Megabus leeches off Amtrak by using the sidewalks outside Chicago Union Station for loading and unloading, shifting the costs of providing a waiting area and restrooms to Amtrak.

Finally, it should be remembered that the Iowa City service will be just the first stage in a line which will also serve Des Moines and continue to Omaha, tapping a much larger potential market.

Alan Kline
UI graduate

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