The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KTC) has recently proposed a passenger rail line that would stop in Bowling Green, KY and David Stewart couldn’t be happier. Stewart, an energy consultant and life-long Bowling Green resident, has always had the economic and societal wellbeing of the area at heart, and sees great opportunity for everyone there with the addition of a new rail line.
The proposal details a roughly 15-stop line that would run from Louisville to Atlanta, with stops in various towns and cities along the way and, according to David Stewart, the advantages of this new passenger train for Bowling Green would be great.
The most obvious and important of these advantages is accessibility. A rail line is a portal that makes travel from smaller areas to larger ones cheaper, safer, and simpler. Many areas that were not easy to reach or that people would have to drive out of their way to get to would now simply be a train ride away. This easier access also brings with it economic advantages for businesses in and around the line by allowing them to cater to commuters and encouraging local tourism. In addition, train lines stimulate job growth, as they allow people to commute more easily to urban areas and vice versa.
According to the “Your Turn” survey conducted in 2013 by the KTC, the primary transportation method of those questioned was overwhelmingly (88%) personal vehicle. Though the reason for this is not explicitly stated, one of the major factors in the way that Americans travel has always been availability. In cities, there are buses, taxis, light rail options, and sometimes even trollies; when you head out into the country, many of these options are not available and highways become the most direct way to get from one place to another. In Kentucky, most transportation spending in recent decades has been funneled towards highway building and maintenance. A train line could change all of that.
However, for now the proposed rail line is just an idea. Without either a substantial government grant or private funding – the latter of which is more likely – there’s very little chance that the plan will come to fruition any time soon. While the window for public comment on the proposal has ended, David Stewart is still hoping that public engagement and awareness of this issue will help sway any decision makers and prove the viability of this particular plan.