FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
RE: EASTERN FLYER PASSENGER RAIL DEVELOPMENT TASK FORCE
DATE: FEBRUARY 8, 2011
Passenger Rail Oklahoma
It has been a decade since Oklahoma and Amtrak began operation of the highly successful passenger train, the Heartland Flyer, between Oklahoma City and Fort Worth. Unfortunately, the Heartland Flyer terminal remains at Oklahoma City, serving just south central Oklahoma. State lawmakers have been reluctant to provide more than $2 million in funding annually for state passenger trains due to annual budget challenges. Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) officials have turned to federal sources to investigate alternatives to provide Tulsa with High Speed Rail service out of Oklahoma City.
Expansion benefits are obvious. The Texas Transportation Institute (TTI) studied the Heartland Flyer route in 2009 for the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and ODOT. The final study showed an $18 million impact for communities on the Heartland Flyer route with $1.4 million of this provided in local tax revenues. When compared with the $3.9 million annual operational cost the $14.1 million economic return can no longer be ignored, especially with gasoline prices rising over $3.00 per gallon.
State Representative Richard Morrissette, Oklahoma City; Tulsa City Councilman Rick Westcott; and other on route community leaders have teamed to investigate alternative expansion avenues. Representative Morrissette has introduced HB1686, The Eastern Flyer Passenger Rail Development Task Force Act, to investigate alternative funding methods and the true cost of delivering passenger rail to Tulsa and points in between. The concept of a Public Private Partnership (P3), an emerging transportation infrastructure funding method endorsed by the National Conference of State Legislatures, will be at the center of this task force.
Passenger Rail Oklahoma is providing informational opportunities along the OKC – Tulsa route:
Friday February 11, 2011
City Council Chambers
Main & 7th Street
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Passenger Rail Oklahoma calls upon the general public and state legislators to become involved in the project. Bringing economic recovery to the state is everyone’s business.