Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s new budget includes $275 million to provide Amtrak passenger service from Rockford to Chicago. Amortizing that expense over 30 years means an annual cost of about $14 million. The estimated annual operating budget is more than $10 million, so the total annual cost will exceed $24 million.
The Van Galder Bus Company offers service from Rockford to the Loop for $22.50.
Therefore, to cover the annual cost at a price per trip competitive with the service offered by the Van Galder Bus Company, the new Amtrak line will have to sell more than one million tickets a year.
Rockford only has a population of 150,000.
It doesn’t require a high-priced study to conclude that it’s highly unlikely there is an unmet demand of 1 million rides a year from a city of 150,000 when Van Galder offers 13 trips a day from Rockford to the Loop and 19 from Rockford to O’Hare.
Or, to put it more bluntly, the proposed service is duplicative and will run at a tremendous loss subsidized heavily by the taxpayers.