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Food cart no longer part of Amtrak's Hiawatha train

MILWAUKEE (WTAQ) - Those who ride Amtrak’s popular Hiawatha train can no longer buy food and beverages on board after Friday.

Peg Schmitt of the Wisconsin DOT said both her state and Illinois subsidized the food cart to the tune of $233,000 a year.

The agency was considering whether to add Wi-Fi instead. Schmitt said officials believe it’s a better value for the riders, considering that food and drinks are readily available at each end of the route.

The Hiawatha line has had record ridership the past few years. Over 832,000 people rode the train in 2012.

Schmitt says the dropping of beverage service had nothing to do with the state budget squeeze. State subsidies for the Hiawatha are being cut by over $1 million in the next two years, to help cover a deficit in Wisconsin’s transportation fund.

Schmitt said there are ongoing negotiations with Amtrak over the cost of the service – and she believes it will produce savings that will make up for the budget cut.