MRT Advocates for Improved Passenger Rail Options in Missouri

By Ron Bentch, Jackson Hotaling and Missourians for Responsible Transportation

April 15, 2022

Missourians for Responsible Transportation Makes a Statement to Advocate for Expanded Transportation Options Through Passenger Rail

Missouri Department of Transportation is updating their 2022 State Rail and Freight Plan. Here is MRT's statement to MoDOT to advocate for increased attention to Missouri's passenger rail system:

Missourians for Responsible Transportation (MRT) is a statewide partnership led by four transportation advocacy organizations (BikeWalkKC in Kansas City, Local Motion in Columbia, Ozark Greenways in Springfield, and Trailnet in St. Louis) that is raising the voices of Missourians to state legislators and policymakers. Founded in 2018, MRT serves as an umbrella partnership that brings together communities and grassroots organizations from urban and rural areas to advocate with one voice at the state level for a fiscally responsible, safe, and equitable transportation system. MRT represents 35,000 members across Missouri. Local Motion houses and is the fiscal agent for MRT.

A strong passenger rail network, which augments and aligns with improved facilities for walking, biking, and accessibility for disabled travelers, will ensure MODOT meets its top priority on this plan, which is ensuring safety for all travelers in Missouri. Further, an explicit commitment to connecting and supporting all of these modes will allow Missouri to remain economically competitive, increase equitable access to necessary resources, promote healthy lifestyles, and support environmental sustainability.

In the past year, the nation has experienced greater interest in passenger rail. According to Amtrak, "Amtrak is initiating the work to deliver by 2035 more frequent, reliable and sustainable intercity passenger rail service to over 160 more communities and 20 million more passengers annually, as outlined in the Amtrak Corridor Vision."

Despite this, in January 2021 the Missouri legislature cut Missouri River Runner service in half, although MoDOT acknowledges that the Missouri River Runner generates $30 million in labor income, $86 million in economic activity, and $11 million in federal, state & local tax revenue." Unstable and infrequent passenger rail service jeopardizes passenger rail ridership, and we advocate to cement the passenger rail component of this plan as a core element of Missouri's future transportation system.


View the 2022 MoDOT Rail Plan here.
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