According to a report by Colorado State University – Pueblo, about 13,000 riders board or disembark the Southwest Chief in Colorado annually. About one-half of these passengers are from out-of-state. Their spending here returns $3.2 million dollars to the Colorado economy.
The positive impacts flow particularly to the towns where the train stops: Lamar, La Junta, and Trinidad. If the train were to add Pueblo as a stop, the economic benefit could be significantly magnified because of Pueblo’s size and location at the south end of the Front Range urban corridor. The study’s authors estimate that a Pueblo stop would attract 15,700 riders annually.
The new round of track repair is using steel from the Evraz Steel Mill in Pueblo. Since these repairs are meant specifically to maintain and enhance speed and reliability for the Southwest Chief, the train legitimately gets credit for that additional economic boost.
So the local, state, and federal governments have ample justification for public spending to save and enhance the Southwest Chief.
Full Title of Study
The Economic Impact of Amtrak’s Southwest Chief Rail Service on the Colorado Economy
Kevin Duncan, Ph. D.
Professor of Economics Colorado State University-Pueblo, Pueblo, Colorado, 81001 719.549.2228
Michael Wakefield, Ph.D.
Professor of Management Colorado State University-Pueblo, Pueblo, Colorado, 81001 719.549.2933
February 3, 2014