To mayors and universities around Illinois, state funding for Amtrak should be increasing, not being cut back. Speaking before the Senate Committee on Higher Education, Champaign Mayor Deb Feinen said the cuts to Amtrak proposed in the governor’s budget may mean reduced service, despite the demand for extra trains on the Illini trains from Chicago to Champaign.
“We are filling our trains to capacity,” Feinen said. “So our capacity is capped not by the number of people who want to ride trains, but by the number of spaces we have available on those trains.”
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Feinen emphasizes the importance of Amtrak service to the University of Illinois and other state universities, saying Amtrak trains help recruit students from Chicago and the suburbs.
The governor has proposed reducing Amtrak funding to $26 million, the same level as the Fiscal Year 2013 budget. State Sen. John Sullivan (D-Rushville) says any Amtrak cuts won’t keep other programs off the chopping block. “The money for Amtrak comes out of the road fund. By cutting Amtrak, it does nothing to help with other programs,” Sullivan said.
Amtrak has said service reductions are unavoidable if the proposed cuts go into effect.