What does it cost to have Amtrak service in Quincy?

A conductor helps passengers disembark from Amtrak's Carl Sandburg train in this 2015 file photo. The Illinois Department of Transportation provided an $11.6 million subsidy for the rail service between Quincy and Chicago. | H-W File Photo/Phil Carlson
Phil Carlson
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 14, 2017 9:05 am

We hear about what it costs in government subsidies to have passenger air service in Quincy, but what does it cost to have Amtrak in Quincy?

It costs $17.2 million a year to operate the Chicago Zephyr and Carl Sandburg trains between Quincy and Chicago.

Kelsea Gurski, a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Transportation, said that in fiscal 2017, $11.6 million was provided through the department. The remaining $5.6 million was captured through ticket sales and other revenue.

The overall federal operation subsidy for Amtrak, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation, was $1.385 billion for fiscal 2016, which includes money for capital projects. An Amtrak financial report says $288.5 million was for operations.

In the recently approved Illinois budget, the state allocated $52 million for passenger rail operating assistance. This includes the two trains for Quincy Amtrak service, the Lincoln Service between Chicago and St. Louis, and the Illini and Saluki trains between Chicago and Carbondale. The three services served more than 1.01 million passengers in Amtrak's fiscal 2016, a drop of about 64,000 from in fiscal 2015. That year, the two lines that serve Quincy carried 202,407 passengers.

The Illinois subsidy also goes toward the Hiawatha Service between Chicago and Milwaukee, which is a shared cost between IDOT and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

For air service to Quincy Regional Airport, the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a two-year contract in August to SkyWest for 12 weekly nonstop round trips to O'Hare International Airport in Chicago at an annual subsidy of $2.659 million through the Essential Air Service program. Flights will start Dec. 1.

Cape Air, which has offered 36 weekly flights to St. Louis Lambert International Airport since 2009, had a two-year contract through the EAS program that cost $2.532 million in the first year and $2.633 million in the second year.

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