MoRPAC Committee Members Visit Sedalia Amtrak Depot
David Pearce, of Warrensburg, who serves as a volunteer on the legislative committee of MoRPAC (Missouri Rail Passenger Advisory Committee), was one of three members who gathered in Sedalia Tuesday morning.
Plans called for them to ride the Amtrak with members of the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission to Jefferson City for a regularly-scheduled meeting on Wednesday.
That didn't happen, as the Amtrak that was supposed to pick them up was involved in a fatal crash northwest of Pleasant Hill just one-half hour prior to the train's scheduled arrival time.
The MHTC had an appointment to look at some equipment in Sedalia, Pearce said.
“So we were all going to ride the train and ride from Sedalia to Jeff City. I think a lot of the commissioners haven't been on Amtrak, so it's a neat opportunity for them to see what Amtrak's all about and see the hard-working staff,” Pearce said.
Pearce, who is a former Republican state senator, and also served three two-year terms in the Missouri House, said that there are nine stops on the Missouri River Runner's route across the state between KC and St. Louis.
Pearce noted that the Warrensburg Amtrak depot is located just two blocks from the UCM campus. “A lot of students, faculty and staff use it, as well as Whiteman Air Force Base personnel,” he said.
The same applies to the Sedalia depot as far as WAFB folks using it. “And so, we promote together, we work together, to make Amtrak as strong as it can possibly be,” Pearce told KSIS.
Pearce noted that it is vitally important to have two daily round-trip trains, two westbound and two eastbound.
“A year ago, that was not in the budget for the state legislature to approve. So a lot of volunteers got busy to see if they could get another $2.4 million put in to allow for that second daily round-trip train,” Pearce noted. “We got that in, and that's so important for tourism, for business, for all sorts of travel. That's our message.”
Accompanying Pearce Tuesday were two other committee members from Kirkwood and Hermann. “And both of those towns rely heavily on tourism and economic development,” Pearce told KSIS.
Pearce explained that there are three train lines that go through the state of Missouri. Two are federal because they cross the state lines, so federal Amtrak pays for it. “This one here is just in the state of Missouri, so Missouri has to pay for it,” he said. The Missouri River Runner is paid through general revenue funds.
Sedalia Mayor Andrew Dawson also attended the meet and greet at the Amtrak Depot Tuesday.
“So currently we have two trains that pass through the (Sedalia) Amtrak Depot, and they're lobbying to have an additional, third train that will run that route. It's going to create more accessibility, more opportunities for tourists to go ahead and hop on that train, come to our community and spend their money,” Dawson told KSIS.
Dawson added that many people ride the Katy Trail, and then hop on Missouri River Runner, or vice versa. In fact, a poster displayed on a message board in front of the Sedalia Amtrak Depot encourages riders to bring their bicycles (or their golf clubs) with them when traveling on the train.
“It's a great way to tour central Missouri, “Mayor Dawson concluded.