By L. Jarod Pearson, TARP President & RPA National Council Member
October 9th, 1979 was easily the saddest day in passenger rail history for people in Tennessee.
Amtrak's Chicago-Florida route -
- called for the last time at Nashville's beautiful Union Station on Broadway.
The timing could not have been worse. The fledgling route had finally enjoyed a more reliable schedule and ridership grew substantially as a result.
A change in transportation priorities originating with the Carter administration also eliminated the Floridian and four other Amtrak routes. The national system has had too many gaps since then!
The Tennessee Association of Railroad Passengers (TARP) was borne out of this terrible situation. Despite our best efforts, the promise of getting a long-distance passenger train to serve our fast-growing capital city is yet to materialize.
Our state needs a practical and unified approach to passenger rail, and so does our federal government. Passenger rail needs a funding mechanism rather than an annual fight for appropriations.
We continue to put our best foot forward as Tennessee rail advocates. Although our hope was dashed for a new
, we made progress on other fronts in Tennessee:
- The Music City Star is in its 13th year of operation
- The Memphis Trolley is back in service
- We have new Thruway Bus connections to other Amtrak routes
- Bristol and other parts of East Tennessee are looking at real proposals with real possibilities
- The City of New Orleans is a popular route with measurable benefits for West Tennessee
- Memphis Central Station will soon take form as a rail station with a boutique hotel
Needless to say, we want more rail service in the Volunteer State. And so, our work goes on!
If you haven't already, consider paying $25 annual membership dues to TARP. If you would be so kind, consider a special $40 gift for our 40th anniversary.
The support, encouragement and hard work is what keeps us going!
L. Jarod Pearson
TARP President / RPA National Council Member