Over the past week, I've spent several hours on passenger trains up here in Canada. The trains have run efficiently, and with ease (in spite of some inclimite weather) and gotten us to everywhere we need to go.
Amtrak is reporting ridership increases of about 14% for the year -- and has seen a record number of riders as gas prices went up earlier this year.
It would be great if Amtrak could become an efficient way to reach major cities throughout the US. Currently the trip from KC to St. Louis takes about 5 1/2 hours...probably too much more time than flying/driving to make it a viable alternative for most people. What's worse is that Kansas City still isn't well connected to other regional destinations like Oklahoma City, Omaha, Wichita, Springfield and Denver.
It's a bit embarrassing that a country like Canada, with 1/10th of the population of the US and a larger land mass, has figured out efficient train transportation. It's not about population density, it's about making it a priority. I'm glad that Missouri is making train travel a larger priority as they are budgeting more money for Amtrak next year. Hopefully more of a priority will be made in the future to make more places assessible to more people.