IARP Q and A
What is the Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers?
- The Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers, Inc. (IARP) is a non-profit citizens organization advocating railroad transportation. It was formed in 1981 to strengthen the voice of the rail user in Iowa.
What does IARP advocate?
- IARP believes that rail service - both freight and passenger - is an essential part of a balanced, effective transportation system, as well as a sound economy. IARP does not suggest the clock be turned back to some mythical "good old days". Rather, we recognize the advantage of all forms of transportation for a modern, mobile society.
What are the advantages of passenger trains?
- Safety. Trains are the safest way to travel. Recent statistics show that automobiles average about 140 passenger fatalities per 10 billion passenger miles, while airlines average 6 fatalities, intercity buses 3, and Amtrak just one.
- Environment. Trains create far less pollution than highways and airports. And, by using existing rail lines and rights of way, valuable farmland, wildlife areas, parks and neighborhoods are preserved.
- Fuel Efficiency. Trains reduce our dependence on foreign oil through greater fuel efficiency.
- Mobility. Trains serve the non-driver, the elderly, handicapped and those who simply prefer train travel. Trains also provide important transportation to many communities - especially those without air service.
- Affordability. Rail fares are generally less expensive for passengers (and freight shippers) when compared to other modes.
- Comfort. Trains provide an opportunity for you to read, work, rest, move about, visit, have a snack or meal, or just enjoy the scenery.
Does anybody ride trains anymore?
- Yes! Over 24 million passengers a year ride Amtrak, the national passenger train system. Although it requires federal support to operate, Amtrak's financial dependence on the government has steadily dropped in recent years, while service quality has continued to improve.
Why should taxpayers support Amtrak?
- All transportation in this country, except most freight railroads, is subsidized in some way. Other modes - airlines, trucks, buses, automobiles, and barges - operate on publicly-owned facilities. Although these modes pay special taxes and user fees, they do not come close to covering the cost to the public of maintaining their infrastructure.
- Amtrak is a publicly-owned carrier operating over privately-owned facilities. Its "user fees" are the fares paid by passengers, of $1 billion per year, which now cover around 80 percent of its costs. That's not out of line compared to costs paid by user fees for other modes. And, it's particularly significant because the percentage has improved from just 48 percent a few years ago.
- Considering the benefits, passenger trains are a wise public investment - one that's been recognized by all other industrial nations around the world.
What does IARP do?
- IARP serves as the voice of railroad passengers in Iowa. IARP works to inform government and the media of the interests of citizens in rail transportation. For example, IARP and its members were very active in recent efforts to rally citizen and Congressional support for maintaining nationwide Amtrak service.
- IARP publishes service information directories for travelers using Amtrak stations in Iowa.
- IARP sponsors special excursion trains to increase public awareness of railroads, and as a fundraising venture, IARP excursions have carried thousands of Iowa passengers.
- IARP acts as a "watchdog" group, guarding the public interest in Amtrak, railroad and transportation issues.
- IARP publishes "Iowa Rail News" to keep members informed about issues and activities.
- IARP holds regular meetings around the state. Most meetings feature programs, with speakers, including legislators, governmental officials, railroad executives and others.
- IARP encourages the development of additional intercity passenger train service in the state, improvements to existing passenger train services, maintenance of important rail freight service, and development of tourist-type railroad operations.
What about the rest of the country?
- The Iowa Association of Railroad Passengers (IARP) and the National
Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) are mutually supportive but are
organizationally unrelated. NARP is a nationwide network of rail passenger
advocates. NARP was founded in 1967 and was instrumental in the creation of
Amtrak in 1971 and continues as an effective nationwide voice for rail
- Although IARP members are encouraged to join NARP, memberships in the organizations are separate.
How do I join IARP?
- Just print out, complete and return the application form. Include your dues ($15 per year, or $12 for students/senior citizens).
- The association receives its support from individual members, not from Amtrak, railroads, unions or other special economic interests.
What else can I do?
- Keep your elected officials - at all levels of government - informed of your concern for a healthy rail system. Letters to the editor and other avenues of public discussion are also important outlets for advancing the cause of rail transportation.