Promoting passenger trains as a transportation alternative in Florida since 1983.  We are citizens who advocate for Amtrak, commuter rail, intercity rail and transit for Florida's future.

Councilman Letter

09 Feb 2021 4:58 PM | Stephen Sayles (Administrator)

Below is a well-done letter that FCRP Board Member James Tilley wrote and sent to all the members individually. I wanted to share this with you and see if we can follow his lead.


Good afternoon Councilman,

I am writing today to ask for your help and support for a matter that directly impacts Jacksonville. 

The U.S. House of Representatives is developing legislation supporting additional Covid-19 economic relief.  I fully understand that opinions differ regarding the necessity for additional aid.  What I do know is that, if enacted, Jacksonville will be the beneficiary of additional federal help to support vaccinations, unemployment relief, housing assistance, food stamps and support for local businesses that may be struggling due to the pandemic.  All good things. 

However, local support is desperately required to insure that our local intercity rail passenger service is restored.  Service frequency was reduced at the onset of the pandemic as AMTRAK restricted seating capacity on its coaches to insure that no passenger traveling alone would be seated next to another.  At times this would result in a maximum of a coach being considered fully booked if only 50% of the seats were sold.  Subsequently, AMTRAK unilaterally reduced the frequency of all long distance trains by 50%.  For Jacksonville this resulted in a 50% reduction in service.  Due to varying schedules (depending upon the day of the week) only 4 trains per week now stop and depart during daylight hours. 

As a member of City Council may I request that you reach out to our Congressional delegation to voice support for supplemental funding to sustain AMTRAK and that such support is be conditioned upon trains serving Jacksonville be restored to frequencies existing pre-pandemic?  A significant portion of passengers traveling to or from Jacksonville originate or terminate at points from Orlando north to Raleigh-passengers that would otherwise be traveling by automobile and further congesting I-95 and other roadways.  With schedules truncated connectivity to other Amtrak service has been disrupted.  Moreover, at least one freight railroad, over whose tracks AMTRAK operates, has interpreted the Covid-19 service reduction as permanent suggesting that restoring daily service will become increasingly problematic. 

Over the past several years I have called, in person, at our Congressional delegation’s Washington offices to voice support for federal support for rail service within Florida.  I will be making this same trip later this year.  In the meantime, local support from local leadership is required and I am grateful for your outreach to Congress.

 

Regards, 

Jim Tilley

 

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