November 03, 2008

Wyden Urges Accelerated Study for Reopening Pioneer Route

Washington, D.C. - Keeping the pressure on to help rural communities thrive, Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) led a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in urging Amtrak CEO Alex Kummant to expedite a rail service study into reopening passenger service along the Pioneer Route. The rail line, which was discontinued in 1997, served cities in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Wyoming. Members who joined Wyden in signing the October 31, 2008 letter to Kummant were Senator Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), along with Representatives Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.).

"Getting the Pioneer Route up and running again would be a much-needed shot in the arm to communities throughout the states it serves, especially in rural areas where the only transportation choice folks have is driving their cars, " said Wyden. "With the price of gas being so volatile, people can't wait for some long, drawn out government study. They need the Pioneer Route back online sooner rather than later."

Amtrak ridership is up nationally this year when compared to last year. Ridership was up 13.9% in July, 10.5% in August and 9.7% for September over 2007 numbers. Wyden and Crapo originally requested Amtrak to begin studying the return of the Pioneer Route back in 1999, two years after the route was discontinued.

A copy of the letter to Kummant can be found at