To the editor:
Your editorial in support of increased passenger train service for Lewistown and other communities in central and western Pennsylvania ("Consider an additional trip on Amtrak train," Nov. 1) is right to stress the potential benefits of more passenger trains. Connecting the cities and towns between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg with additional service will provide more and better choices for business and leisure passengers, and will also provide an economic stimulus to communities that have lost many of their travel options over the last fifty years.
You are also right to remind your readers that we must continue to stress the value of the one train (Amtrak's Pennsylvanian) that currently serves the Pittsburgh-Harrisburg-Philadelphia-New York City route. Lewistown showed its support very convincingly in March with a well-attended rally in support of the train-as it happened, on the day that Gov. Corbett announced that the Commonwealth would fund the train. This funding began on Oct. 1; as you note, we need to be vigilant to make sure that the necessary support continues in future years.
Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail (www.wpprrail.org) is advocating for not just the two trains that you suggest, but three trains in each direction on the route between Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, and New York City. We believe that economies of scale with three trains will result in a more efficient use of existing infrastructure than with just one train.
Amtrak ridership increased nationwide last year by 1.0 percent, and passenger revenues by 4.2 percent. The Pennsylvanian is a special success story. Ridership on it went up 3.3 percent and revenues by12.4 percent. Passenger rail is the safe, convenient, and green travel option for the future.
Note: I am the president of Western Pennsylvanians for Passenger Rail.
Michael C. Alexander