Tahlequah Daily Press

Editorials

January 22, 2014

Excursion train success a sign we need more rails

TAHLEQUAH — If the results of a pilot program testing the viability of excursion train service in Oklahoma are any indication, Okies are more than ready to ride the rails again.

In late December, Iowa Pacific announced it would be sponsoring three excursion train trips, Feb. 9, 15 and 23, between Sapulpa and the Oklahoma City area. All 900 tickets are already sold out.

If nothing else, the eager reception this “test project” received has made fools of the high-ups in Oklahoma government who want to sell off the rail lines. Hello? Is anybody listening?

The Eastern Flyer, as it is being dubbed, is a luxury tourist train. It will leave Sapulpa those days at 8:30 a.m. and take passengers to the Oklahoma City metro area, where they’ll be transported by motorcoach to Bricktown for shopping, dining and entertainment, or a Thunder basketball game – or for those more attracted to Oklahoma history, to the National Cowboy and Western Hall of Fame.

The passengers will be hauled by three retro-style rail cars, pulled by a Stillwater Central engine. And during the trip, they’ll be able to dine in a car with a glass dome roof, or choose from other amenities.

Despite the price tag ranging from $64 to $249, all 300 tickets for each excursion have been snapped up. That’s not cheap, by Amtrak standards; The Heartland Flyer takes its passengers from Oklahoma City to Fort Worth and back for $56 (or less, with AAA or other discounts).

The Heartland Flyer service was started in 1999 as a cooperative agreement between Amtrak and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, ending a 20-year dearth of passenger rail service in this state. The heroes of this venture were then-Sen. Don Nickles and then-Gov. Frank Keating. These men, both Republicans, understood what a boon this service could be for the state, and they were correct.

It’s unfortunate that some of their successors in office have almost wet all over themselves to shut down the Heartland Flyer, although it’s more profitable than most Amtrak lines, and the company is now running four passenger cars daily with its front-and-back engines. And not infrequently, those cars are full. Towns along the line have reaped the economic benefits.

The same shortsightedness is on display from those politicians who want to sell the state’s tracks. We wonder whose pockets would be lined by the proceeds.

If Okies were starved for rail service from their capital city to Texas, they’re similarly anxious to see a line linking Oklahoma City to Tulsa – perhaps one that runs twice daily. And if the predictions of certain area energy industry sages that Oklahoma’s economy will be booming within a couple of years are spot-on, the rail service won’t just be a convenience; it will be a necessity, linking Oklahoma’s two prime cities with the Dallas/Fort Worth and Kansas City metropolises.

Ideally, Iowa Pacific will see the writing on the wall, and make the Eastern Flyer luxury train a permanent fixture. If you’re interested in the possibilities, go to www.easternflyer.com. Amtrak should also continue to push for the Northern Flyer, which would connect Oklahoma City to Kansas City, with a spur coming from Tulsa. That, however, will take some better politicians than are currently wasting our money on both the state and federal level – on projects that benefit no one, and don’t grow the economy.

1
Text Only
Editorials
  • Ban on wage hikes by municipalities a mark of hypocrisy

    The words “God” and “governor” may share the same first two letters, but the two are hardly interchangeable.
    But let’s assume Gov. Mary Fallin really isn’t deluded enough to place her powers on the level of a deity. What rationale would a woman who has championed smaller government and local control use to explain her hypocrisy in banning individual Oklahoma cities from raising minimum wages in their jurisdictions?

    April 18, 2014

  • Community cleanups a good way to ensure our collective success

    This is our community – and it’s no better than what we make it. Let’s make it look great.

    April 16, 2014

  • Attack at school in Pennsylvania: Mental illness root of problem

    Washington’s crusade against guns was dealt a severe blow on Wednesday. No, it wasn’t the Supreme Court curtailment of the Second Amendment right of all Americans to own firearms. It wasn’t an executive order handed down by the administration. It was the brutal assault by a high school student in Pennsylvania against his fellow students – with a knife.

    April 14, 2014

  • People with faulty zippers should be booted from office

    We may forgive, but we shouldn’t forget, because there’s serious work to do in Washington. That work will never be accomplished as long as flawed zippers - literally or figurately – are a pervasive problem.

    April 11, 2014

  • Do your part to fight animal and child abuse

    It’s hard to change the habits of an abuser, especially when mitigating factors – such as alcohol or drugs – are involved. And these patterns tend to repeat themselves in successive generations. But all of us can take one small step to help eradicate this epidemic, and that is to report it when we see it.

    April 9, 2014

  • NSA head lies to Congress, and seems to get away with it

    Is there an obvious pattern of criminality within these governmental agencies? If so, why isn’t the Judicial Department investigating?

    April 7, 2014

  • Pass for rich kiddie rapist proves that justice isn’t blind

    Someone in Wilmington, Del., needs to keep an eye on Superior Court Judge Jan Jurden for the next few months, because she might improve her standard of living due to a sudden influx of cash.
    There’s no other way to explain why Jurden would have sentenced an ultra-wealthy heir to the du Pont fortune to probation for raping his 3-year-old daughter. It’s an outrageous miscarriage of justice that once again proves when it comes to the U.S. justice system, the elite get a pass almost every time.

    April 4, 2014

  • Maybe it’s not $3.2B, but state should still account for tribal cash

    In an editorial published last week, the Daily Press said that through tribal compacts, the state of Oklahoma received about $3.2 billion in annual revenue, partly attributable to the 117 casinos (or 118, in some reports) run by 33 tribes in the state. The information we accessed for that piece was confusing, and had a typo or two, which may have led us to overstate – to a considerable degree – how much money the tribes actually give the state.

    April 2, 2014

  • Tribal compacts should mean state has money to perform its functions

    Oklahoma should be rolling in the dough. The statistics bear that out. Thirty-three American Indian tribes operate 117 casinos in this state. Thanks to “compacts,” these tribes have been sharing the wealth with the state of Oklahoma. And thanks to the casinos, that wealth is substantial.

    March 28, 2014

  • It’s time to turn in your candidate announcements

    If you are running for a political office for which Cherokee County voters can cast ballots, it’s time to turn in your announcement. We’ve already run a few, and expect several more. The primary elections are Tuesday, June 24, with the registration period to vote in this election closing Thursday, May 30.

    March 24, 2014

Poll

What to you think of a state Legislature proposal to forbid cities from raising the minimum wage? Choose the closest to your opinion.

The federal government should set the minimum wage across the board.
States should be allowed to raise their minimum wages, but not cities.
Both states and cities should be allowed to raise their minimum wages.
Cities should be allowed to raise their mimum wages, but not states.
There should be no minimum wage at all.
Undecided.
     View Results
Tahlequah Daily Press Twitter
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Raw: More Than 100,000 Gather for Easter Sunday Raw: Greeks Celebrate Easter With "Rocket War" Police Question Captain, Crew on Ferry Disaster Raw: Orthodox Christians Observe Easter Rite Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Four French Journalists Freed From Syria Raw: Massive 7.2 Earthquake Rocks Mexico Captain of Sunken SKorean Ferry Arrested Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Pope Presides Over Good Friday Mass Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Superheroes Descend on Capitol Mall Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Anti-semitic Leaflets Posted in Eastern Ukraine Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest
Stocks