This post originally appeared on Michigan Environmental Council’s website here.
The Coast-to-Coast Passenger Rail Ridership and Cost Estimate Study is complete—marking the first milestone toward re-establishing passenger rail service between Michigan’s major cities of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. This exploratory study provides a working understanding of the ridership potential and costs associated with operating passenger rail service.
- The results of the ridership and cost analyses support further study on Route 1 and Route 2. Route 1 has the highest ridership, while Route 2 has the greatest return on investment.
- Establishing basic 79-mph service on the 186-mile Route 2 would require an annual subsidy of approximately $3 million and an upfront capital investment of $130.9 million. While 110-mph service would require a greater capital investment, higher ridership would allow the service to recover its operating expenses, and in fact could generate more than $12 million in annual profits on Route 2.
- The next major step will be to complete a full feasibility study, which should include environmental impact analyses, an implementation plan and a review of public-private partnership options.
2030 Subsidy / Surplus by Option
For years, Michigan Environmental Council has been a major proponent expanding passenger rail options in Michigan. From leading a major public engagement effort to gather feedback on the Michigan State Rail Plan in 2010, to co-founding Michigan By Rail, a statewide coalition with the goal to expand passenger rail options in the state, MEC advocates for improved and expanded passenger rail options to protect the environment and enhance economic prosperity in communities across the state.
The 2011 Michigan State Rail Plan includes recommendations for studying service between Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, which was discontinued in 1971. Through a partnership between the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, MEC took the lead on the first step of service development by initiating and managing this study.
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Written by Liz Treutel Callin, Policy Associate, Michigan Environmental Council