Efforts to reboot the mothballed passenger rail service through Boise are cruising ahead.
In November 2021, Congress passed President Joe Biden’s infrastructure package with $41.5 billion in new funding for Amtrak to expand and upgrade its national network. Some of these funds were allocated for a study examining the potential operation and economic impact of reopening Amtrak’s Pioneer Line, which carried passengers from Portland through Pendleton, Oregon, Boise, Pocatello and south to Salt Lake City through the late 1990s.
Officials in Boise are hopeful this study is the first step toward reestablishing passenger rail service through the Treasure Valley and southern Idaho. Bringing rail back would give passengers more choices for traveling the region without having the hassle of flying or traversing dangerous roads during the winter months.
“Economically it’s well proven that rail connections provide a lot of economic benefits, especially in a region like ours where the ability to travel intercity is so limited,” Boise City Council President Elaine Clegg said. “The only way to get to many of the places in our region is by car and so in the winter or if you’re aging or if you have other restrictions that make it difficult for you to use a car, it truncates the ability to travel inter-regionally.”