WASHINGTON, D.C. (NMB) – Earlier this week, U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) introduced a bill to restore daily Empire Builder service on the Hi-Line and reinstate furloughed Amtrak employees.
Bear Paw Development Executive Director Paul Tuss recently testified to Congress about the impacts of the recent cuts to the Hi-Line economy, and is hopeful this bill will become law.
“The impacts are tremendous on Montana and we rely on that transportation link to get us to doctors appointments, and get us to business meetings, and allow us to go visit friends and family in other parts of the country. And we really need Amtrak back on a daily basis. I’m very hopeful that Senator Tester’s legislation will be successful at not only securing daily service once again for the Hi-Line and the Empire Builder, but to bring back the ticket agents. That’s a very important issue. We have these train stations that aren’t manned anymore. In terms of assistance with tickets and baggage and for folks that perhaps have small children or are handicapped, you really need that assistance. And I’m very hopeful that his legislation will be successful and in short order, we’ll have daily service once again here on the Hi-Line.”
If it becomes law, this piece of legislation would reverse recent cuts imposed by Amtrak that included trimming the Empire Builder’s routes to tri-weekly.
The Empire Builder includes 12 stations in northern Montana. In 2019, over 120,000 passengers either boarded or disembarked in Montana.