The part of this article that interests me is the last paragraph, which I have highlighted in bold.
Thursday, January 24, 2008 10:40 AM
ATHENS, Ohio (AP) — Ohio University’s small airport is surveying southeast Ohio businesses to see if an air taxi service might fly.Flights would take off and land based on the needs of customers, who would pay only for their own seats. In a statement, the university explains that such an on-demand service would occupy a sort of middle ground between the hourly aircraft rentals now provided at Gordon K. Bush Ohio University Airport and regular, scheduled passenger flights.
Airport officials say the region’s business people typically drive to Columbus when they need to fly somewhere. The survey will target businesses within 60 miles of the airport and ask not only if they’d use an on-demand air service but also how much they’d be willing to pay.
Everybody is driving to Columbus. Of course they are, because they can’t take a train to Columbus. I have always thought that a southeast commuter rail line would do well considering how much the economy of southeast Ohio is tied to Columbus. When I worked construction the summer after my freshman year at OSU, there were several people on the concrete crew driving from Nelsonville or beyond to be at work in the Polaris area by 4:30 in the morning. Two guys even came in from West Virginia to find work. They might not have been a good fit for a train, but I bet there are a lot of people from SE Ohio driving into downtown, or to the airport too. Would they take a train? Get some work done on the way to the airport, avoid the parking fees, sleep before the big meeting. It sounds pretty good.
This all reminded me of an e-mail I received last June, but had mostly forgotten about. Someone is (or was) considering a southeast commuter rail line:
June 5, 2007
In March, several people from communities between Columbus and Athens met to discuss potential rail commuter service on the Columbus-Athens rail line. Everyone attending the meeting was very supportive and expressed a need for the service. I want to give you an update on what is currently happening regarding the project.
Jolene Molitoris and I sent a letter to Governor Strickland requesting his support of this project. Several people also sent letters supporting the project. If you are one of those people, thank you. If you have not had the time or opportunity to send him a letter, please do so now. (Would you please send a copy of your letter to Lynda@info-depot.com or Lynda Nelson, Depot Conference Center, 919 Old Henderson Road, Columbus, OH 43220.)
The Honorable Ted Strickland
Governor, State of Ohio
Broad & High Streets
Columbus, OH 43215
Currently, there is no movement regarding a sale of the line, as the new owner of Rail America needs to sort through several of the company’s new acquisitions before its staff has time to negotiate a sale of any of Ohio’s lines. It may take six months before there is a decision.
Passenger rights (limited to excursions) on this line are currently held by the Cincinnati Railway Company. I am in the midst of conversations with the president of that company who is very interested in forming an alliance to allow commuter service on the line.
All Aboard Ohio (AAO), Ohio’s rail passenger advocacy organization, is including the topic of “How to Revive Rail Service on the Athens-Columbus Rail Line” as one of its primary objectives of its “Reconnecting Ohio” agenda. I will be making a presentation on this topic at the AAO Annual Meeting on June 30 in Athens.
New funding sources are being discussed. If you have any ideas to include please let us know.
Jolene Molitoris, Lynda Nelson and I met with Kimberly Gibson, Special Assistant for Energy, Transportation and Regional Collaboration, Ohio Department of Development. Kimberly is planning to recommend that this line become a pilot project for commuter service in the State of Ohio’s transportation initiative.
On June 6, we have a meeting with Mike Bradley, incoming Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) Executive Director, to seek his advice and input regarding the project.
ORDC staff members have been very helpful with advice and we are discussing the magnitude of this project and how it will help economic development in southeastern Ohio.
We are in the process of gathering data: Traffic studies, mobility statistics, locations of current major intersections, businesses in those areas, demographics (including employment state, travel & work patterns), companies using rail and companies located on the rail line, diversities, cost of capital improvements, salvageable rail, amount of new rail (69 mph, 130 lb, fused), cars & other equipment, and other statistics to evaluate and from which to make recommendations.
…We are moving on this project and need your help. Thank you for your involvement. This project will be great for the economies of southeastern Ohio, Columbus and Ohio.
Barry H. Fromm
Chairman & CEO
Value Recovery Group, Inc.