Will passenger trains return to Tallahassee?

Photo of the train station off Railroad Avenue courtesy Malik Burgess

For almost two decades, residents of Tallahassee have wondered whether passenger trains would ever return to Florida’s capital city. The train station that sits between FAMU and FSU hasn’t had a train roll through it in almost 18 years.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, which wiped out a crucial bridge connecting Pensacola and Mobile, the Tallahassee station on Amtrak’s Sunset Limited route was terminated. The route ran from Orlando to Jacksonville and then stretched to Los Angeles. The damaged bridge connecting Florida and Alabama forced Amtrak to decide on removing the route to New Orleans-Los Angeles, which led to cutting off all of Florida including Tallahassee.

“It would be great,” said Tallahassee resident Josh Palmer when he commented on the convenience of bringing passenger trains back. “As of right now, I don’t have a solid form of transportation, so being able to ride the train home to Jacksonville and back to see my family would be a lifesaver.”

Bringing Amtrak services would allow extra transportation for FAMU and FSU students. It would provide students without cars an opportunity to travel throughout the state of Florida along with many other states, without having to pay the extreme price of a plane ticket.

Micheal Roberts, a senior business administration student at FAMU, says bringing passenger trains back to Tallahassee will benefit college students. “I would ride the train as a college student because students do not have much money to spend a lot on gas or buy plane tickets to travel,” Roberts said. “It is very convenient for a student like myself who stays on campus and doesn’t have any forms of transportation.”

According to the United States Department of Transportation, U.S. citizens spend an average of $65 on a train ticket and around $383 on a plane ticket to the same location. If passenger trains were to return to Florida’s capital it would be a game changer for all residents of the community.

“I currently have a job in Pensacola where I work every weekend. Being able to take the train to work would be a big help as I would be able to save gas money and not have to worry about the effect of driving every weekend,” TCC student Robert Rush said.

Local leaders have recently pushed to restore Amtrak services to the Tallahassee area but have struggled to move that mission forward.