Creating Opportunities from Coast to Coast
Grand Rapids entrepreneurs catch the morning train to a meeting in Lansing, and update their business plan on the ride home. A couple boards in Ypsilanti for dinner and a show with friends in Detroit. Michigan State students hop a train for a Saturday on the beach at Holland.
These are just glimpses of how the Coast-to-Coast Rail Service could knit together Michigan’s largest population centers and reconnect our coasts. By meshing existing train tracks with local transit options and intercity coach services, the route would extend possibilities well beyond its station stops and allow comfortable travel across Michigan without a car.
The Coast-to-Coast would:
- Ignite innovation by providing a conduit for new partnerships between the world-class medical centers, and over a dozen colleges and universities along its tracks.
- Provide workers access to jobs along the corridor and make their commutes more pleasant and productive.
- Breathe new life into our centers of arts and entertainment by giving out-of-town visitors a reliable and relaxing way to reach new cultural experiences.
- Help Michigan attract and retain more of the talented workers the state needs to prosper in the future.
The economic impact of these new opportunities is huge. For instance, passenger rail service on the Wolverine Corridor brings more than $45 million in community benefits to towns along the route each year. Amtrak invested more than $31 million in Michigan companies in 2013 for goods and services to keep its trains running.
And demand for convenient rail travel has never been greater. Amtrak ridership in our state increased by over 78% from 2002 to 2013 and ridership remains strong. Michigan trains carried over 800,000 passengers in 2013, a new ridership record generating Amtrak $28.7 million.
Coast-to-Coast Passenger Rail Study results are in:
Led by Michigan Environmental Council, the Coast-to-Coast Ridership and Cost Estimate Study is now complete.
Click here for an executive summary, or click here to download the full report.
The study indicated that re-establishing passenger rail between Detroit, Lansing, Grand Rapids and Holland is indeed a concept worth pursuing.
Conducted by Transportation Economics and Management Systems, Inc., the study examined three potential routes from Detroit to Holland via Lansing and Grand Rapids that could be established by upgrading existing rail. One route passes through Ann Arbor and Jackson. Another passes through Ann Arbor and Howell. The third route bypasses Ann Arbor, heading from Wayne to Howell.
The study considered several scenarios for trip frequency: two daily round trips at 79 miles per hour; four round trips a day at 79 and 110 mph; and eight daily round trips at 110 mph.
Route & Technology Options Studied:
Key findings include:
- Both of the proposed routes that pass through Ann Arbor are viable options that deserve further study. The other proposed route likely does not merit further study, since it would not directly serve the large ridership demand in Ann Arbor.
- While the route through Jackson showed the greatest potential ridership and revenue, the route through Ann Arbor and Howell promised the greatest return on investment.
- Establishing basic 79-mph service on the 186-mile route through Ann Arbor and Howell would require an annual subsidy of about $3 million and an upfront investment of $130 million.
- Although establishing 110-mph service would require greater capital investment, it would yield higher ridership that would allow the service to recover its operating costs and in fact could generate $12 million in annual profits on the route through Ann Arbor and Howell.
2030 Operating Surplus / Subsidy by Option
The next major step toward establishing Coast-to-Coast passenger rail service is a full feasibility study to include environmental impact analyses, an implementation plan and a review of public-private partnership options.
Interested? Download the report below and sign-on to our list of supporters to receive updates and information about how to get involved.
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Peter J Voorhees
Transit & Rail Planner
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Mass transit enthusiast. Reduce carbon footprint while increasing affordable travel.