Amtrak Eyeing Easier Access to Chicago from Peoria

Published 08/21 2014 10:39PM

Updated 08/21 2014 10:41PM

PEORIA - Amtrak wants to make traveling to Chicago easier for Peoria residents, but first, the city needs the help of local residents.
Peoria is the largest metropolitan area in the state that does not have direct rail access to Chicago.
Though that is unlikely to change soon, Amtrak and the city are looking to make the trip more convenient for riders with a new bus route and an integrated ticket system.
"Very simply, it would be a integrated bus service, so as you buy your ticket from Amtrak you would include a bus route. It would include the ticket and train ride,” said Peoria city manager Patrick Urich.  
The route would travel between Peoria and Normal. The city must decide where the bus will pick up and drop off riders, and it is asking the public for input.
"We were looking at the [CityLink] transit center, the multi-modal transit center that we have downtown on Adams Street, which we currently have bus service that goes to the train station,” said Urich. “And then also Bradley University because there is a high student ridership.”
This is part of a trial by Amtrak to test ridership in Peoria. C.J. Summers thinks it will not produce fair results.
"And I don't think people want to take a bus or train from Peoria to Normal. They want to go from Peoria to Chicago, and that's what I think we should be really fighting for," said Summers.  
But with Amtrak footing the bill, the city says it comes down to money.
"It's just difficult to make that type of $150 to 200 million investment in rail service, knowing that there's also 35 miles away, 110 high speed connection going in," said Urich.  
The high speed rail is expected to open in 2017. Once the high speed rail line is completed, the city believes taking the bus and rail to Chicago will be faster than driving. 
Amtrak would like the begin testing the integrated bus route system early next year.
The city encourages residents to submit written comments on where they think should be the hub for this new bus system.

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