Convinced by the Numbers
Why Should Passenger Rail Matter to Communities Like Warsaw, Indiana?
The importance of passenger rail service to Warsaw, Indiana came up when the Indiana Department of Transportation [InDOT] was charged with selection of the preferred route for the line that is to connect Chicago to Cleveland. After a lengthy vetting process, InDOT selected what has become known as the Southern Route to connect Chicago to Warsaw. This route follows US 30 through Indiana. Our community was selected as a potential stop for the new route.
Armed with this exciting news, a delegation of Warsaw folks met with then Governor Daniels hoping to recruit a champion for the route. Governor Daniels did not reject the idea outright - but he did express his skepticism. The Governor was known for his fiscal prudence. Simply wanting the stop would not be enough. Our community came away knowing we had to make a business case for passenger rail for Indiana. There were far too many stories and examples of heavily subsidized rail routes for the Governor to get on board with rail in Indiana.
In early 2011 Orthoworx of Indiana released their economic impact study on passenger rail for the orthopedic cluster located in Kosciusko County. (View the PDF of their February 2011 news release here.) The data is most compelling. The travel time savings for the orthopedic industry amounted to $28,033,831 and the associated productivity increases amounted to $33,883,388 using a discounted 20-year savings model. This savings estimate is based on a connection to Union Station in Chicago. If the route would connect to O'Hare Airport, the savings increase by nearly $18-million dollars. Remember, this is only one industry cluster in Kosciusko County. Our World Class community includes many other corporate headquarters that would also benefit from the connectivity of passenger rail.
So, our fiscally conservative community has climbed on board to support passenger rail. We encourage other communities to look at the impact of rail on their economy. The data is compelling.
Content contributed by INHSRA member Mark Dobson, IOM, President and CEO Warsaw Kosciusko County Chamber of Commerce.