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VRAN: "Extend Amtrak service to Burlington!"

•The Douglas administration said the bus option is temporary. However, VRAN's message noted that Gov. Douglas was cautious about the "temporary" status in a recent, local newspaper account.

•Amtrak indicated in January that there is a lack of passenger rolling stock in the U.S. As a result, if eliminated from Rutland, VRAN claimed, the hardware would be reassigned; it would likely be a long wait to return the train to a Vermont route.

•Regarding budget cuts: "Why the $1.4 million from the western-side train," VRAN asked. "East Vermont-with its $3 million Amtrak Vermonter train-enjoys an interstate highway, daily Vermont Transit service, and daily passenger rail service."

•VRAN claimed that Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express is a revenue generator for Vermont.

"Vermont Department of Tourism says Vermont visitors spend $66 a day and $177 overnight," VRAN noted in its e-mail message.

•"We strongly question the (said) 35 percent increase in passengers with a bus to Rensselaer, N.Y., Vermont Transit closed all Rutland routes for lack of ridership," VRAN noted.

•"Why would you propose to switch modes now when the passenger numbers on the Ethan Allen Express to Rutland have increased steadily since 2006 for the last three years and three months?

A slow but steady increase in Ethan Allen ridership is indeed reflected in both Amtrak and state data: 2006: 17,731, 2007: 18,885, 2008: 19,314.

VRAN has challenged the Douglas administration to explain how the potential capacity of the Ethan Allen Express (286 passenger capacity) can be supported by a bus (55 passenger capacity). If the state increases the number of buses to handle Amtrak riders, then bus operating costs will increase over the administration's current projections, they argue.

It is also uncertain if the administration's proposed bus would stop at the Rutland Multi-Modal Transit Center and if the current Amtrak station would be abandoned, according to VRAN.

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