Homewood officials urge riders to advocate for Amtrak service

While the fate of Amtrak service remains uncertain as Gov. Bruce Rauner and the Democrat-controlled legislature continue a budget stalemate, Homewood officials are taking action to defend the village's rail service.

On Friday, two village staff members visited Homewood Metra Station during the morning and afternoon commute peaks to hand out postcards provided by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. The postcards urge riders to contact their state representatives and express their support for maintaining transit service.

Homewood Mayor Richard Hofeld said Saturday that he expects if the proposed cut to Amtrak's funding is implemented, the village's four in-state Amtrak trains could be cut to two, one northbound and one southbound.

Currently, Amtrak has two daily runs from Chicago to Champaign and back with a stop in Homewood each way. It also offers a run from Chicago to New Orleans and back with stops in Homewood. 

Hofeld noted the importance of those state routes, especially for local students who are attending downstate colleges and universities.

The village also included Rauner's contact information on the postcards.

"We need to let him know we need that transportation," he said. 

Significant cuts to Amtrak's budget have been on the table since Rauner presented his budget plan in February, and more recently he proposed a 40 percent cut to go into effect today, according to a June 17 story in Crain's.

However, the cut apparently hasn't gone into effect yet. Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said there are no impending service reductions for now.

"We're having conversations with Illinois DOT about service levels and costs," he said. "It's not unusual for us to begin a fiscal year without a contract. Certainly we're continuing to sell tickets."

Contact Eric Crump at [email protected]

Related story:
Is Rauner cutting state funding for Amtrak? (Crain's, June 17, 2015)

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