The popularity of Missouri’s St. Louis to Kansas City AMTRAK trains are increasingly on-time and are increasingly popular.

A special House committee on passenger rail service is looking at ways to bring more passenger trains to more communities on more routes. And it’s studying what it will take to make the service faster.  

But is has learned right off the top that there are several obstacles to doing that.  The biggest one is money.  AMTRAK has trains following three routes in Missouri, but the Kansas City to St. Louis line is the only one that is subsidized.

And the state transportation department’s multimodal director, Michelle Teel, says that subsidy is not enough. She says it’s about $800,000 short of the amount needed to fully fund the subsidy.

One lawmaker suggests increasing ticket prices. Another person at the hearing suggests faster trains will draw more riders and improve the financial picture. 

The two daily trains across Missouri showed a 16 percent ridership increase in the last fiscal year.  On-time performance has improved by 41 percent since some track improvements have been made. That is seen as a reason customer satisfaction is 89 percent, one of the highest satisfaction rates in the nation.

 Listen to Teel’s testimony 17:52 mp3