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Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority completes rural and tribal public engagement report



Billings, Montana – A recent report by the Big Sky Passenger Rail Authority (BSPRA) summarizes public comments received on passenger rail in Montana’s rural and tribal towns.

This initiative and its results represent BSPRA’s first attempt to educate the public about passenger rail and social health in these Montanan communities. It establishes a foundational comprehension of the advantages and drawbacks of restoring passenger rail in southern Montana and develops a model for subsequent public participation.

The Northern Cheyenne Tribe, the Crow Tribe, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes were among the tribal nations involved in the project. The research also categorized Paradise, Forsyth, and Glendive as rural communities.

In order to bring back passenger rail service across southern Montana, which was discontinued 43 years ago with the demise of Amtrak’s North Coast Hiawatha, BSPRA was established in 2020. The route crossed southern Montana and North Dakota its route from Chicago to Seattle and Portland.

According to a recent assessment, access to social and economic opportunities, health care, and medical services is now restricted in rural and indigenous communities due to transportation difficulties. The BSPRA hopes that these constraints will be addressed and the towns will gain from the restoration of passenger rail.

Additional recurring themes about the advantages of passenger rail that were discovered throughout the research include chances for economic development, safer and more reliable transportation, welcoming more inhabitants and visitors, and lowering carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.

“There is a direct correlation between healthy communities and individuals and robust transportation options, like passenger rail,” said BSPRA Chairman Dave Strohmaier in a press release. “This was borne out in community after community that we visited as a part of our engagement process.”

The report is available for reading in full on the BSPRA website and has been filed to the Federal Railroad Administration.




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