The Mississippi Press Editorial, 6/2/8

Rep. Gene Taylor has co-sponsored a bill to have Amtrak report its plan to restore the Sunset Limited passenger service between New Orleans and Sanford, Fla., which is near Orlando. The bill passed the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure on May 22.

The timing is right for passenger service to return along the Coast. Rising fuel prices make mass transit, particularly by rail, more attractive than ever. Also, using the rails for passenger travel takes pressure off crowded highways, such as Interstate 10.

According to a news release from Taylor, the bill includes $1 million for Amtrak to conduct a study of the Sunset Limited route that was disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The route is through Louisiana, Mississippi Alabama and Florida.

As gasoline prices ratchet up toward $4 a gallon — diesel has already broken that mark — the solution for many travelers is less about tax holidays than it is about alternatives to the family vehicle. Except for a few areas in the nation, passenger travel opportunities by rail are limited. On the Mississippi Gulf Coast, travel by rail has disappeared.