Traveling by train in Iowa is a glaring embarrassment [OPINION]

Traveling by train in Iowa is a glaring embarrassment [OPINION]

When I was a kid, my mom and I traveled a lot on Amtrak. She had a tremendous fear of flying, which she has since overcome with the help of medication. We would depart from the Amtrak depot in St. Paul, Minnesota. It was maybe 10 minutes from the house. She would park, we would get on board, and head to New York to visit the family.

It was a slow moving method, but it was fun. As a child, I would meet other children, befriend them for the 18 hours or the number of hours that the trip lasted, and then start again on the trip home. Amtrak is still there. Another option. But since I moved to Iowa, I realized very quickly that this was not a viable option. Not at all.

Where are you in Iowa, again?

If you live in one of the bigger cities in Iowa like Cedar Rapids or Des Moines. Waterloo or Davenport, I have bad news for you: you are going to have to travel a long way to catch a train. In fact, from Cedar Rapids, to get on an Amtrak, you have to go to Mt. Pleasant, which is about an hour and 10 minutes. It is, in itself, a journey. It’s an even longer hike from Waterloo to the nearest Amtrak.

There are two Amtrak routes that cross Iowa: the Southwest Chief and the California Zephyr. With only two routes, Iowa has some weirdly embarrassing Amtrak stops. According to its own website, you can only hop on and off at:

  • Burlington
  • Creston
  • Fort Madison
  • Mount Pleasant
  • Oscéola
  • Ottumwa

That’s it. Although the number of stations is not very low, six is ​​exactly the same number as Minnesota, that is or they stop. No Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, no big cities. Minnesota has one in St. Paul, which is part of the Twin Cities, the two largest cities in the state. North Dakota has a stop in Fargo, Grand Forks and Minot. All major cities. Missouri stops at St. Loius and Kansas City …

So what’s up with Iowa not having stations in major cities? In April, a stop in Iowa City was proposed but did not receive funding. This would also have made a stop in the Quad-Cities, which currently has no Amtrak service. Iowa having only a handful of stops is one thing, and that’s the location and the lack of options for major cities.

If you want people to use public transportation and not drive everywhere, they need options. If you want to reduce emissions and road trips, give us options. Again, Amtrak is only present in 46 US states, so it could be worse I guess. Sorry, Wyoming and South Dakota. Oh, and Alaska and Hawaii of course.

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Joseph D. Whitman

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