A bipartisan group of lawmakers on the Missouri House Budget Committee teamed up this week to support a GOP amendment, which removes the restriction to once-daily Amtrak passenger service across Missouri.
The amendment is from State Rep. Aaron Griesheimer, R-Washington. The Missouri River Runner train stops in his hometown of Washington, which has an Amtrak station near the Missouri River.
State Rep. Rasheen Aldridge, D-St. Louis, voted for the Griesheimer amendment on Sunday. Representative Aldridge has ridden the Missouri River Runner train from St. Louis to Jefferson City, for session.
“I’ve used the Amtrak quite often, and I know how essential it is not just to me but to people that are trying to see our great state,” Aldridge says. “If it’s getting to Kansas City, Jefferson City, other stops that people like to visit.”
Representative Aldridge tells colleagues that both the morning and afternoon Amtrak trains are usually 90 percent full when he rides, and emphasizes the service’s need.
The train stops in downtown St. Louis, near 14th Street. It also stops in several Missouri towns, including Sedalia, Warrensburg and Hermann.
The Budget Committee has voted 19-16 to approve the Griesheimer amendment, which is aimed at preserving twice-daily service from St. Louis to Kansas City.
State Rep. Wes Rogers, D-Kansas City, also voted for the amendment, telling Griesheimer that twice-daily train service is good for tourism too.
“When we visit my in-laws in St. Louis, we like to get on the train in Kirkwood (a St. Louis suburb), take it to your district, spend the day and get back on the train and then go home. It’s my son’s favorite thing to do. Without your amendment, would that be impossible?” Rogers asks.
“Yes,” Griesheimer responds.
“Thank you, no more questions,” Rogers says.
The Amtrak issue could come up again on the House floor, when the full Missouri House begins budget debate. It’s unclear now when that will be, due to coronavirus concerns.
The state owes Amtrak more than $6 million in unpaid bills.