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Posted on Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

Ann Arbor mayor: Commuter rail to Detroit can happen in 3 years with regional support

By Ryan J. Stanton


Ann Arbor resident Nick Tobier and his 3-year-old son Oscar board a recently refurbished railcar for the proposed Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail service on display in downtown Ann Arbor on Friday.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Nick Tobier and his 3-year-old son Oscar weren't planning on getting on a train Friday, but after passing by the railcar parked in downtown Ann Arbor, they had to check it out.

"It's fantastic, we love it," Tobier said, while Oscar offered a one-word review of the refurbished railcar for the proposed Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail service: "Good."

"We're really big supporters of public transit and anything that links Ann Arbor to Detroit," said Tobier, an Ann Arbor resident who teaches at the University of Michigan. "I work with schools in Detroit, so I'm in Detroit anywhere from three to five days a week, and I would be very happy not to drive.


Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje offers remarks at a special unveiling event on Friday while standing in front of the refurbished railcar.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"And we as a family are in Detroit for many things on the weekends, so we'd take it all the time — a Tigers game or Eastern Market. Plus the social aspect of the train is nice."

Friday's unveiling of the railcar took place in advance of the Mayor's Green Fair in downtown Ann Arbor, and it marked the first-ever public display of the commuter railcar.

It's one of a number of railcars being refurbished for two proposed commuter rail services — the east-west Ann Arbor-to-Detroit line and the north-south WALLY line linking Ann Arbor and Howell.

Representatives from the city of Ann Arbor, Michigan Department of Transportation, Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and others were on hand for the railcar's unveiling on Friday.

Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje emphasized that Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail is the focus right now, and WALLY is something that might happen years down the road.

"WALLY is still a viable plan, but it is not my emphasis," he said. "It is not something I think is going to happen anytime soon, but I think it is something we will turn to at some point down the road, and it is probably a good thing to continue long-range planning for."

As for the proposed service between Ann Arbor and Detroit, Hieftje said he's expecting that to be a project that the new Southeast Michigan Regional Transportation Authority takes up.

"This isn't Ann Arbor's project," he said. "This is the state of Michigan's project. This is the Southeast Michigan RTA's project. And we're one of the willing participants — along with all the cities along the line. Everybody's enthusiastic about it. But we have no plan to put general fund money into this."

Hieftje said it's his expectation that the RTA will be the controlling organization if Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail service is going to move forward.

"This project is frankly going to need the support of the Regional Transit Authority that has just been made real by the state," he said. "We've been working with them and we will continue to work with them, and we are having some real positive conversations coming out of the work that we've been doing. And if it's embraced by the RTA, this can become a reality in a few years."

Hieftje stressed it's nothing Ann Arbor can do on its own.


A look inside the double-decker railcar that was refurbished by Owosso-based Great Lakes Central Railroad. The rail cars were purchased from the Metra commuter rail system in northeast Illinois before being refurbished. The new seating inside was done by American Seating in Grand Rapids.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"But it's something we can do working with cities like Dearborn, working with MDOT," he said, "and working with the city of Ypsilanti, where the leaders there have told me they expect 700 to 900 people would move into downtown Ypsilanti over just a few years so they could get off in Ann Arbor at work in about 10 minutes.

"That is economic development and that is what can happen when you have a new rail hub established that has easy access to a major employment center."

SEMCOG Executive Director Paul Tait, who lives in Ypsilanti, said he commutes to work in Detroit and he'd love to use the proposed commuter rail service.

"We can feel it, taste it, and soon ride it, so I'm pretty excited," he said, saying it's getting "real close" to becoming a reality.

"In the very near future, we're looking at event trains that will help create the buzz for the service that we're talking about," he said. "Full service, we're probably yet a couple years off in the future."

He noted MDOT has secured hundreds of millions of federal dollars to do some major track upgrades that will make not only Amtrak function better, but also Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail.

"This has been a long time coming," he said. "Not because of a lack of hard work, but because there are just a gazillion that we all have to get through to make this work."

After calling Hieftje the "strongest advocate for rail probably anywhere in the state of Michigan," Tait went on to talk about the economic benefits of rail. He noted there are 10 different college campuses, as well as major medical centers, along the corridor.

"For the young knowledge-based workers that we need for the future success of our economy, transit — particularly rail transit — is at the very top of their list of amenities they want," he said. "So this is a huge step forward for attracting that worker of the future."


Tobier and his son get a feel for the seats inside the 124-seat railcar.

Ryan J. Stanton |

The proposed line would run from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, Metro Airport, Dearborn and Detroit, where it would link with the new Woodward Line.

"The University of Michigan has identified 10,900 of their employees who live in a zip code along that rail line," Hieftje said. "In Ypsilanti, there are 4,000 people with an Ypsilanti zip code who work just at the U of M. This doesn't include the private employers."

Hieftje said the latest estimate he's heard is that it should be about another two and a half to three years before Amtrak trains are going over 100 mph all the way from Detroit to Chicago. He noted that will be on newly refurbished tracks with all sorts of places for trains to pass each other, and with MDOT and Amtrak in control of the track, it will become much more dependable.

"I don't know — maybe we'll see a doubling (of train ridership) in three or four years as people recognize it's dependable, it's fast, and it's a much better alternative to flying," he said.

Hieftje said the University of Michigan has pledged to be a partner as the city continues work on a new train station somewhere in the city, possibly on Fuller Road.

"And I want to be very clear, that is with 80 percent federal funding, which is a great thing, but the university is one of our partners in that and will help us to come up with matching funds," he said, mentioning MDOT and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority as other potential partners.

Hieftje said he's happy with the pushed-back schedule the Ann Arbor Station project is on, because once Amtrak's new high-speed rail service is up and running on brand-new trains between Detroit and Chicago, he's expecting ridership to increase significantly. He thinks that will make it easier to sell the idea of a train station to Ann Arbor voters, who get to decide if the project goes forward.


A crowd of about four dozen people gathered for a special unveiling event Friday afternoon along the tracks next to the First and William parking lot.

Ryan J. Stanton |

"It's going to be pretty evident to everybody that a station that is already the busiest one in the state is overwhelmed by the traffic and we're going to need to move ahead on that," he said. "So all of those things are coming together in the future and I think it is fortuitous for us all. In a way, rail is kind of going back to the past, but it's going to be going back to the past with wi-fi."

AATA Chairman Charles Griffith reiterated on Friday that AATA has been a partner in the planning for rail service for the Ann Arbor community, though he said: "We're not yet a rail operator."

"But we clearly see rail as the next level of transit for our region, especially as more and more of our citizens come to expect modern, advanced transportation options as a basic service in the community in which they live," he said. "We see it as a key for economic development in our community."

State Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, was among the crowd of about four dozen people who took a tour of the rail car during a special unveiling event Friday afternoon.

"It's very cool. The prospect of seeing commuter rail in Southeast Michigan is absolutely nothing short of awesome," Zemke said. "We all know the economic development benefits behind having rail, and bringing more people into Ann Arbor and giving people the opportunity go into Detroit cheaply, easily and efficiently is phenomenal. I'm absolutely excited."

Zemke has introduced a bill that would amend the state law that created the RTA. The purpose of the bill is to get rid of a clause that gives any one member of the RTA board veto power over rail.

"Basically right now, rail in Southeast Michigan is very difficult to get under the RTA because you have to have 100 percent unanimous consent of all board members," he said. "We introduced a bill to make it a simple majority, the same as other transit project decisions within the RTA.

"We think that's fair, and the bottom line is that will allow these other communities in the RTA — for instance, Detroit, Wayne County, Ann Arbor — to work together and do something that may not affect the other entities, but still definitely affects mass transit in Southeast Michigan."


A closeup view of the railcar on display Friday afternoon.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Hieftje said even if the changes Zemke has proposed don't pass, he thinks there's going to be support on the RTA board for Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail.

"It makes so much more sense than the bus rapid transit, which actually is very, very expensive — hundreds of of millions of dollars to install," he said. "The infrastructure for this commuter rail line is being paid for by the federal dollars."

Hieftje was adamantly opposed to having Ann Arbor and Washtenaw County included in the RTA last year, but that's no longer the case.

"What's happened is we've had some good conversations," he said. "We pushed our case. I'm accepting reality here. It's obvious the state is not going to let us out, and the governor is really behind the RTA, so we don't have a choice there. And since we are in the RTA, we want to do everything we can to make it a success, so we're very pragmatic about it."

Hieftje added, "I've had some very good conversations with leaders of the RTA, and also leadership in the other counties. I've met with people from Oakland and Macomb, and we've had some good conversations, and I believe there's some synergy moving forward."


This map was on display Friday afternoon, along with information explaining the 38.2-mile corridor would have five stations (Ann Arbor, Ypsi, Airport Connector, Dearborn and Detroit), with four daily 55-minute roundtrips (all during peak periods), and three roundtrips on Saturdays and Sundays. Coordinated bus services would be provided by SMART, DDOT and AATA.

Ryan J. Stanton |

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:14 a.m.

Absolute waste of money and such a misnomer to state "Detroit" as its destination since New Center is miles from downtown and relying on any kind of bus shuttle system is ludicrous as anyone who has taken any bus in Detroit can tell you. This entire project must be stopped now. Or better yet...GET A PHOTO to show Ann Arborites where the Detroit stop will be. Ridiculous.

Brenda Byrne

Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 9:28 a.m.

It looks like only the police and fire departments can be funded in Detroit. I want to go there! Not!


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

I think people will be surprised what the cost to actually ride this will be. Add in the related charges for connecting bus service or parking fees to leave your auto to begin/end the journey....just wait. Transport user price hikes will happen regularly as well.No freedom to do what you want in the Metro area once you are in that train.........people going in for an experience or the variety will be in 2 and 3-somes.....a car is cheaper vs. train fees for 3 people......or are you brave souls heading to Detroit on your own for a walk about??


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

2 questions: 1. Why would anybody want to go to Detroit? 2. How would you get from the train stations to where you work? The one in Dearborn is in the middle of nowhere.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 7:29 p.m.

Dreamers... quit huffing on Mayor Choo Choo's opium pipe and smell the coffee. Detroit is in the crapper and will likely be there for a good, long time. Dan Gilbert wouldn't be the first rich guy to flush a bunch of cash down that toilet. Between the budget follies in DC, the ongoing sequester, and the NEXT round of financial and monetary bubbles, there will be much less $ than all the Obammunists are salivating over for secondary concerns like commuter rail in dubious, depopulating locals.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:38 p.m.

If the TSA takes over train security and does airport style sweeps, nobody will ride. And then the people who blew nearly a billion dollars will claim they had no idea that could happen.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:10 p.m.

I think it's great as far as it goes, but what about us in Dexter, Chelsea, and (gasp) Jackson. My mother and Grandmother, who both lived in AA in the 30's and 40's used to talk often about the wonderful Interurban train that went from Jackson to Detroit and how they would go into "the city" to shop, meet friends, get their hair done, etc. When I was in school in Iowa in the 60's I came and went by train. The early morning train from Chicago would stop in Jackson to pick up people who worked in AA, Ypsi, and Detroit. I live two blocks from the train station in Chelsea, and we can't even get a demand stop from Amtrak. I can't even imagine how often I'd have jumped on a train going to Detroit or Chicago.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:54 p.m.

Have any studies been done to determine if the train will be self sustaining financially?

Larry Ryan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:29 p.m.

To be clear, this is MDOT's train, the train owned by the people of Michigan. If the RTA supports it and the state continues to support it, it will happen. Thousands of UM workers will ride it daily, especially if it connects at the medical complex. Private sector workers will too. It would go a long way toward mitigating the mounting traffic congestion in Ann Arbor, where job growth is taking off. It would be very good for Ypsilanti too. Now that MDOT owns the tracks plus the train itself and $100's of millions in federal dollars are going into fixing the tracks and building new stations in Dearborn and Ann Arbor, this can really happen. Can't wait to see it happen. BTW, I was there last night just before MDOT closed it up and they thought 350-400 people had gone through. Lots of smiles all around, it looks great.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:40 a.m.

Please list all the successful mass transit projects MDOT has been involved with over the decades Michigan has been screaming for it? The MDOT board has always been rancid with auto executives who are the real power and who drive the county executives and Detroit to put on a show like this, but no kind of long term sustainable transit. This train is for ding dongs and nit wits who know zippo about real mass trantsit.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:19 p.m.

"Regional Support" the form of tax payers money.


Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 2:17 a.m.

dk, The subways in NY &Chicago don't make money. Subway riders in NY covered about 66^% of their costs in 2011, leaving about $1.067 Billion to be found elsewhere. And that's just the operating expenses. However, the bus riders in NYC only manged to cover 35% of their costs leaving $1.184 Billion to be found via other means. And the subways moved about 1.5 billion more rides than the buses did.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 3:30 p.m.

Shepard, you obviously know a lot more about transit that I do. I'm coming from a relatively simplistic point of view and believe mass transit is contingent on population and population density (the higher the better for both). Both of these numbers are (relatively speaking) in a virtual free fall in Detroit. My other unscientific data point is the current subsidized commuter vans. Right now there are about 5 or 6 vans (15 person) that leave AA for Detroit in the morning and return in the afternoon. Given the lack of demand (6x15=90 people) I think this is a great system to continue using for those who want it. Also given the total number of people who do this, talking about anything for the masses is comical to me. Demand just isn't there. I enjoy your posts on this topic. Thanks.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:37 a.m.

You have a chicken and egg problem. Chicago and New York's transit systems were built early enough for the city to grow around them, making them high demand. More recent successful transit systems are better examples for Southeast Michigan and those are all subsidized with federal matching funds, then state/local taxes for operations. When they mature over decades, it would if those subsidies would no longer be necessary. A major regional rapid rail system in Southeast Michigan would be an excellent value,, however as I wrote (and agree with you), this train is a bad idea and a bad value for reasons you state and others. It's a gimmick for transit fools who don't know any better.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:06 p.m.

Shepard, I agree with you on the value. Clearly the subways in Chicago and NY are in VERY high demand, thus having substantial value. I didn't even address value on this proposal because it's just not there. The demand isn't there. Therefore, unlike the subways in Chicago and NY that generate revenue and pay for themselves, this train will certain need to be subsidized with tax payer money. This makes it a bad value, and bad idea.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:51 p.m.

Sorry, but if you honest think this is the same thing then I ought to stopping talking to you. Roads and bridges are vital to the healthy of our economy. This train is not. Not even close.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:46 p.m.

If you pay federal taxes (not part of the 50%+ who pay zero), then you helped pay $7 billion in federal dollars to bury a freeway in Boston. How much value did you get for that project? The question should be about value - not "my tax dollars". Somebody paid for the subways that make Chicago and New York what they are today. ...and somebody paid for our Mackinac Bridge. If mass transit is done right, it is a remarkably good investment. The problem in Michigan is that the auto industry sits in the background and tinkers with any real planning efforts until those who know what they are doing give up. Ask the brilliant but beat up John Hertel about that (off the record). His transit plan started with all the right ideas but by the time he had "input from the power brokers" and published, it was ready for the trash can.

Larry Ryan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:30 p.m.

Yup, just like tax payer money supports roads and bridges and airports, etc.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:16 p.m.

@Stephen, I would normally blame the need for such questions on poor communication by transit leaders, but in this case this is the wrong system so more communication is not going to help them. Still, your understanding of how mass transit works is better then most (especially points 3. and 4.) so I will respond as though we are talking about a true transit system on dedicated tracks: Mass transit is not a "for profit" business, and never will be. It is a regional amenity with benefits that are related to improved business climate in cities, higher real estate values, TOD reducing outward green field development pressure and private investment driving improved opportunities. Claims are as high as $9 private investment for every $1 public transit dollar invested. With regard to who benefits from increased real estate values at stops, until obama seizes our land in the name of national security, the benefits of private property in this country belong to those who own it. It is also not uncommon for large private investors to pay (or partially pay) for transit stops at their large attractions, such as business centers, universities, malls and sports centers.


Sun, Jun 23, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Hey, the People Mover could be fine if it actually served areas of the city people wanted to move between. If it went to Comerica Park/Ford Field, up Mich Ave to Corktown, over to the Eastern Market (which has a TON of new investment going on around there), down to Chene Park and the riverwalk, out to Pewabic Tileworks and Indian Village, the Edison District/Fisher Theater, etc. It's actually not a bad riding experience at all. It just doesn't go anywhere.


Sun, Jun 16, 2013 : 1:53 a.m.

You're not paying attention, sonny: Your entire point vanishes when you realize that new mass transit system "value" is not quantified based an operating profit. - focus on more recent mass transit lines. Rapid and Light Rail value comes from much broader economic indicators, which also makes it hard to explain to most taxpayers. They want a connect-the-dots plan and transit is too (initially) expensive, forward looking, broadly reaching and speculative for that. Michigan has a state wide inferiority complex and simply refuses to plan for and invest in it's own future. Other states and cities do not have that problem. Part of that comes from the auto industry and it's view of planning and cities. The M1 Rail project is a good example of nothing but how truly broke and pathetic Michigan is. It will be serviceable, but not much more. The history and operation of the people mover is a living monument of dysfunction.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:03 p.m.

@shepard145 wrote: "Mass transit is not a "for profit" business, and never will be." I disagree. Badly conceived mass transit projects will always lose money, but there are examples of exemplary mass transit projects that are profitable. The Amtrak line between Boston and Washington DC is very profitable. My analysis of the Amtrak line between Chiacgo and Detroit indicates that when the 110 mile per hour faster trains are put into service, if the service is as reliably on time as the airplane service between DTW and Chicago airports, that this line will be very profitable going forward, instead of loss making as it now is. The Japanese bullet train firms were privatized for I think $65 billion and are worth even more today. So, there is no law of nature or economics that commuter trains lose money, only badly conceived business plans or areas that have insufficient demand even if revenues and expenses are optimized. Lastly, the M1 Rail project in Detroit is a good example of a privately led effort that cost the citizens of Detroit NOTHING. Similar to the thought at the end of your post, the large entities that benefitted from the stations all kicked in substantial sums. FYI, Matt Cullen who led this effort, is someone I know and was a guest at my wedding. Kudos to him for pulling it off!

Vince Caruso

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:13 p.m.

I would love to see more train options for SW MI. The problem is that AA may be the only ones putting in community funds, through a millage, which I and most of the city do not feel is fair. There are lots of ideas on how to spend AA taxpayers funds on all kinds of regional projects that should be regionally funded. This could be like the convention center the few businesses folks want the city to pay for so they can have bragging rights; was not supported by the city.

Larry Ryan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:34 p.m.

Wasn't it clear in the story, "this is a state of Michigan project, an RTA project." It's the states train and the RTA would draw dollars from Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw. Cities are not members of the RTA individually but by county.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:32 p.m.

These plans are very expensive and little consideration appears to have been given to running these commuter train services in an optimized manner. There is a smart way and an inefficient way to create a business plan and run any business or service whether for profit, not for profit or civic. For example: 1. I've seen single unit self-propelled trains built by a firm in Oregon and deployed in various places around the U.S. that cost $5 million. They are very efficient, require less staff to operate and two or three of them could provide shuttle services between Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor or ... 2. ...between park and ride lots and U-M Health System and downtown Ann Arbor. 3. Does the train run back and forth then every 10 minutes or four times a day like the current plan. This will impact demand and therefore revenue. 4. How many stops? Ann Arbor, Ypsi, DTW, Dearborn and Detroit only like the current plan? What about EMU, St. Joseph's Hospital, Washtenaw Community College, U-M Stadium? 5. Are the workers unionized or not? What level of wages and benefits will be paid, comparable to private sector wages and benefits or the much higher public wages and benefits? 6. Who gets the benefit of real estate development along the line especially at and above train stations? You see there are many choices which will determine revenue and expenses. I see no evidence that the current plan on the table which is projected to cost $389.7 million for the tab for commuter rail operated through 2040 listed in the WATS plan alone takes efficiency into account. I believe that a savvy business plan would require much less and perhaps little or no public taxpayer subsidy.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:20 p.m.

Properly planned mass transit is a central necessity of any thriving city. Transit is unique in that it has the capacity to move large numbers of people without the burdens imposed by cars – traffic and parking. Local transit makes cities far more livable, which encourages residential development, which supports businesses 24/7, which supports the city's tax structure and improvements, stable real estate values and good schools/services. Most Michigan cities a rely on cars, offering themselves a bleak future. A city business center with few full time residents, retail that can't survive on work hour revenue, an ever increasing need for parking, grid locked traffic and a falling tax base. Ultimately the office users decide the city's taxes are too high, traffic unacceptable and move some place better. As a college town, AA can do more with less, but the core is similar. Regional transit is just as important, but this ain't it. There is no connection between need, quality of service, expectations and cost. What this has going for it is the usual goals of every large project this pathetic generation automotive industry financed road planners support: CHEAP, SIMPLE and FAILURE. Because they don't really want a system that will succeed and be here 50 years from now. They want a system that will waste a bunch of money, fail quickly and go away so they can get back to the roads – this is that train. What we need is a $4 billion dollar rapid rail system linking major cities, metro airport and local transit systems like the one AA will build some day. PLANNED TO FAIL: Until we get that done, this is just more bs to placate the low information transit advocate voters by planners who want it dead. a few years they will point to this dead train and say "...mass transit doesn't work in Michigan - I told ya so! Now shut up an go buy a new car."

Dirty Mouth

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:15 p.m.

It is the future. The current expensive automobile infrastructure is simply not be enough to provide the type of fast and safe commuter experience many in larger urban areas, like Chicago or New York already take for granted. Want to save the region? Get on the train or be left behind. Furthermore, I realize that change can be difficult, especially for Republicans, but don't you worry little Repubs, you'll be alright.


Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 1:58 a.m.

SunnyDog, Yes, facts are stubborn things. I'll repeat what I said above: Ann Arbor has a population density of 4,093.9 people per square mile according to the US Census Bureau. Salt Lake City has a population density of 1,678.0 people per sq/mile. SLC has an 80 mile commuter line, and 4 light rail lines. And they just broke ground on a Streetcar line. And unlike AA to Detroit, where Detroit is a much bigger city than SLC, SLC is the destination for the commuter trains. And just for further comparison, here are the current populations of SLC 189,314 and AA 116,121. So Ann Arbor doesn't need to be NY to support trains. AA doesn't need to be Chicago to support trains. After all, clearly Salt Lake City didn't need to be as large It didn't even get close.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:31 p.m.

This again. We are not New York or Chicago. We lack the population density to support choo-choo trains. Here are current populations of the locations that you mention: Chicago 2.7 million in 2013 New York 8.2 Million in 2013 Detroit 701K in 2012 Ann Arbor 116K in 2012 Facts are stubborn things.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:57 p.m.

Why would we be talking about partnerships with Detroit when that city is broke and continually on the edge of bankruptcy? They are talking about liquidating the DIA treasures, and some want that money to be spent on a choo-choo? With the shortage of police, how could Detroit even secure the train? You want to partner with *that*?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

The rail line to the airport station seems easy enough but infrastructure to get commuters to the airport terminals looks complicated. Please don't tell me you have to wait for a shuttle bus. Many airports have nice rail systems to move travelers to parking and rental car locations MSP, SFO, MCO) but they are very expensive.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:49 p.m.

Am I the only person who's kind of disguested with this "paid for by federal dollars" thing? The attitude here is very blatantly that it's "someone else's money," like we should all do anything if it's paid for by federal dollars. Who cares if it's not technically necessary or feasible? It's federal dollars, so what's to lose? This attitude is one of the biggest problems this country has. It's STILL our money, people. Only now we're stealing it from other people as well as ourselves. Those wind turbines are going to be paid for MOSTLY with federal dollars too. The ones that will not produce even one thousandth the energy to make up for the cost. And there'll be TWO of them. How wonderful. This town seems to have no shame.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:53 p.m.

come on, man. you know what built the sun belt? federal dollars! trillions invested in national labs, military bases, defense r&d and other government facilities and all the knowledge jobs that followed laid the groundwork for the economic prosperity we see down there today. we haven't seen a piece of the pie above the mason-dixon line since WWII. what's wrong with getting our fair share?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:44 p.m.

You know what would be a great story, Ryan? Finding out how many dollars, federal, local, etc. have been spent on the rail studies in this region. Seems like this whole rail thing has had about 400 overlapping repeated studies (environmental impact, engineering, design, etc.) over the last decade. Include things like the (what was it; $100,000? $400,000) trolley car "study." There has probably been enough money put ito this to buy each and every person in the cities of interest a brand new hybrid automobile.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:42 p.m.

SE MI is the only major metro area in the country that doesn't have train service (subways, commuter trains). The trains are not just 19th Century, they are the future. Large numbers of people can be moved place to place quite economically and it is ecologically sound. Michigan is no longr auto capital of the world. It is time for us to catch up. Europe's train systems demonstrate what it can be like. Planes areproving to be expensive, with the fuel costs and need for constant governmental financial support. On the train, you can carry more luggage and not pay for each piece you bring on. The seating is far more comfortable than being packed like sardines onto planes. You can get up and move around, have a good meal and see the scenery enroute. Trains are the future.


Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 1:41 a.m.

Nicholas, Ann Arbor has a population density of 4,093.9 people per square mile according to the US Census Bureau. Salt Lake City has a population density of 1,678.0 people per sq/mile. SLC has an 80 mile commuter line, and 4 light rail lines. And they just broke ground on a Streetcar line. And unlike AA to Detroit, where Detroit is a much bigger city than SLC, SLC is the destination for the commuter trains. So your argument doesn't fly at all.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:48 p.m.

Some are planning for our density continuing to go down. We can be the next North Dakota.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:17 p.m.

These particular trains are not the future but the PAST!

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:55 p.m.

We do not have the population density of europe, or even other major US cities. We are not a major US city. Were are small US city. And detroit is not a major US city. It is many things, but it is not a major city. PS: Detroit is near bankruptcy.

Susan Ursus

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:15 p.m.

Are that many people going to Detroit on a regular basis? I avoid Detroit like the plague.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:21 p.m.

Gramma - And how would you plan to get from place to place once you take the train? Walk? It's miles between the attractions you mention in your post. As for Riverside events, watch out. Many people, innocent people, have been shot while attending.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:46 p.m.

I avoid downtown Ann Arbor like the plague.

Susan Ursus

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:36 p.m.

Yes, people go to see the Tigers, the DIA, etc. It still seems a stretch to me that that would be enough to support regular train service, even with a significant subsidy.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:18 p.m.

the same thing that is a plague in Detroit is also a plague in Ann Arbor of course Detroit's much worst but same problems.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:45 p.m.

The Tigers still draw a large crowd. Many people go to the Casinos. I would love to visit the DIA and attend Riverside events without all the hassle of parking. There are many people who realize there is still a lot of beauty and many things to do in Detroit. I don't hear much about crime against visitors.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:54 p.m.

The $825 million cost of this project is surely a low-ball estimate that would grow dramatically in cost - as all infrastructure projects tend to do. I'd expect it to cost not less than a Billion. Do we need to pay a Billion to connect Ann Arbor to Detroit? If it is so important, why can't we just send some bus shuttles on an *as needed* basis?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:24 p.m.

Union or not, you're right, Bob. Probably 50-70% of that will end up in someone's paycheck, across a wide range of disciplines. About 10-15% will end up as shareholders' or business owners' profits. About 10-25% will be repaid to the governments as taxes (including employee taxes).

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:45 p.m.

Nearly all the money goes to labor. As in union construction jobs. It will be beneficial when gasoline hits $10 to $15 for regular people to still be able to get around.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:37 p.m.

BTW, the stated budget to build and operate the Ann Arbor - Detroit connection is $390 million thru year 2040. I have no idea of its accuracy but it 's much less than the number you're citing. That number is for all the local transit projects that been listed in a multi-decade visioning plan.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:34 p.m.

No, you're not close.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:36 p.m.

"where do you think that money goes?" Railroad robber barons and their lobbyists? The 1%? Am I close?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:46 p.m.

I don't think people understand how the economy works. When the government spends $1 billion on an infrastructure project in SE Michigan, where do you think that money goes? Most of it goes to this area, which results in jobs, which helps the economy. Some of it goes to other areas to buy manufacturing equipment, railway cars, etc. Something like a railway project helps the economy before people even set foot in the cars.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:52 p.m.

There is a good chance that Republicans will take the white house in the next election and all of this "free federal money" will be history.


Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 1:25 a.m.

Nicholas, It was Republican President Ronald Reagan who created the Mass Transit Account just to fund projects like this commuter rail. And while so many blame President Obama for HSR, it was Republican President George H W Bush who designated the first 5 HSR lines in this country, including California, Florida, and Michigan.

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:41 p.m.

We've had Republican presidents before, and as much as they may talk about it, none have actually stopped spending money.

Gale Logan

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:51 p.m.

Most of you seem to be missing two points. This isn't the Mayor's Train, it's the Governors. The train belongs to MDOT. This big advantage for A2's economy is not us going to Detroit, it's people all along the line coming here to work in abundant jobs so A2 does not have to build more parking structures and suffer more traffic congestion. Hard to see how you don't get it. Oh, yea, you don't want to.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 6:34 p.m.

So are you saying we should spend close to a billion dollars to bring workers in for low wage service jobs? Won't that depress wages? What will the cost per job be? Why can't those people use a park n ride and take a bus into town?

Susan Ursus

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:37 p.m.

Just because some people don't agree with you doesn't mean you have to be nasty about it.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:21 p.m.

There's nothing that says these "abundant" jobs need to be downtown. Actually it seems like sort of a bad idea to put them there because of some the reasons you mentioned. Hard to see how you don't get it.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:48 p.m.

A few of us with direct experience in Detroit consider it akin to a third world country, riddled with crime. We do not wish to connect our community to that place.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

Snark, that might be..but the location of this train station and the logistics involved once IN new center to get anywhere you really want to go are mind-boggling in its lack of foresight.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:42 p.m.

The very center of Detroit, around the stadiums and the Madison Building, is undergoing a rapid rebirth. I know some people who've had to move out in the last month because rents have gone up so fast. I know people buying commercial real estate there. People are flocking to that area and businesses are following. It's a great place to work or hang out after a game. Detroit has many, many problems, the area outside that core hasn't seen the same growth yet, but Detroit is improving. The pending bankruptcy will help that process.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:27 p.m.

Who wants to go to Detroit anyhow? This is a large waste of the limited dollars we have as a country. this is something you do when your books are balanced and you are fiscally strong. Many politicians and activists don't seem to be able to grasp simple financial reality................we're broke, seventeen trillion in debt and climbing


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:23 p.m.

You are right Mike, the train should go to Troy, that's where the jobs are. Jobs and shopping.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:51 p.m.

This is actually the kind of project that could help to revive our economy.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:57 a.m.

With three neighbors who work in Dearborn, who have often said how sick and tired they are of driving I-94, I suspect that a good chunk of the travel would be AA-Dearborn. Especially given how close the current and future train stations are to the various Ford offices there. Interesting how the nay-sayers are so focused on Detroit- they rather conveniently overlook the other potential travel within the corridor.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:28 p.m.

I vote for a train now that I know you have three neighbors who are sick of driving! That changes everything including fiscal reality...............

Dirty Mouth

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:46 a.m.

This commuter rail service could be a real boost to our regional economy. Kudos to the mayor.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:12 a.m.

Everyone likes choo choo trains. Especially if they are paid for by someone else. Democrats especially like choo-choo trains because they will be operated by union members. Those unions will collect dues and will then make campaign contributions to democrats.


Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 1:18 a.m.

Actually SonnyDog, you couldn't be more wrong. Trains require fewer union workers than do buses, meaning that Democrats should hate trains and Republicans should love trains. Out in Salt Lake City, one system that actually provides employee counts, in 2010 their buses moved 21,716,864 people by bus and 13,400,546 people by light rail train. Yet their bus division required 998 employees or 1 worker for every 21,760 rides taken. The rail division only employed 335 people or 1 worker for every 40,001 rides taken.

Jack Gladney

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:43 a.m.

$800,000,000 over 25 years? That's pennies! A mere pittance, I do say. And besides, the 3 year old likes the mayor's choo choo.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:57 a.m.

All aboard!!!...the night train!

Brenda Byrne

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:51 a.m.

Hey, what about extending it west from Ann Arbor? We would commute from Dexter if we could.

Nicholas Urfe

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:49 p.m.

Veracity speaks the truth on this. Apparently some people don't like the truth.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:27 a.m.

But it will take you twice as long to make the trip. However, using the train will cost you next to nothing as commuter usage will be heavily subsidized by taxing Ann Arbor citizens.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:44 a.m.

Yes, it was a small crowd consisting largely of the people involved in promoting the train plan and congratulating each other for doing so. Inside the cars, there was, indeed, a glimpse of the past--nice to tour but not to ride in; moreover, this scheme is not a viable plan in this day and age. The tracks are mostly gone, the trips would be slow and infrequent, and I don't think that many people would give up their automobiles for a complicated series of commutes every day (from car to train to bus/van to work?). A very unrealistic and very costly plan.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:16 a.m.

Like public art, in principle, commuter rail is an excellent idea, however HOW it is implemented is truly critical. Is it to be a self-sustaining business operation or a government subsidized boondoggle? I'm not sure if the taxpayers are aware of what the current plan on the table that the Mayor supports for commuter rail is supposed to cost, but per the draft of the 2040 WATS Long Range Transportation Plan, the costs will be: In 2015, a one-time capital cost proposed to be paid for by AATA or the County of "$13,700,000 [for the] county share of commuter rail and connecting bus service from Howell to Ann Arbor and Detroit to Ann Arbor." "2016-2020 $70,000,000 operating capital for commuter rail [to fund annual losses] 2021-2025 $72,000,000 operating capital for commuter rail [to fund annual losses] 2026-2030 $75,000,000 operating capital for commuter rail [to fund annual losses] 2031-2035 $78,000,000 operating capital for commuter rail [to fund annual losses] 2036-2040 $xx,000,000 [the amount was not included in the draft report] operating capital for commuter rail [to fund annual losses]". I estimate $81 million. In addition, the draft report lists in 2015 a $30,000,000 capital investment for the Transit Connector project from Domino's Farms to NCRC to Central Campus and finally Briarwood Mall and a total of $405,000,000 for "Signature Transit" along the Washtenaw Avenue corridor and Plymouth Road and State Street corridors between 2021-2040. The grand total of this vision is $824.7 million. According to the WATS document, none of this is currently funded by existing taxes. The plan on the table will require all these funds from new taxes. The WATS document is at:

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

@gramma & @glacialerratic: I actually completely agree with your comments, and in fact the oil economy is subsidized $650 billion a year by the cost of the military required to secure and protect the supply of oil globally and the $4 trillion spent on the endless wars. However, there is a smart way and an inefficient way to create a business plan and run any business or service whether for profit, not for profit or civic. Please see my comment on this topic in the main thread that I will post next.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Most of the infrastructure in this country was built as speculation with the anticipation that this investment would stimulate future growth to offset costs of the investment. This includes almost all construction of canals; railways, subways and interurban trains; hydroelectric dams; etc. It might be worth considering that the economic/demographic contraction in parts of SE Michigan opens up space and a rare opportunity to invest in regional infrastructure that otherwise would be impossible to build. "Entrepreneurs" and "entrepreneurship" have become omnipresent buzzwords. I don't see much evidence of either in many of these comments.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Roads are government subsidized. The auto companies receive all kinds of direct and indirect welfare. Airlines and airports are subsidized and it's a mess to fly. Governments pay for services provided to its citizens through tax monies. That's what builds a healthy country.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:07 p.m.

We could sell bonds to the Chinese and Saudis. We have no possibility of ever paying off the (US Treasury) bonds already sold, so instead of giving the money raised from T-bills to investment bankers (who stash it in off-shore accounts instead of loaning it out), why not use that money to build infrastructure?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:21 a.m.

Those costs are unbelievable! What will all that money be purchasing? No one can project the actual usage figure for commuters so the costs can not even be analyzed on a per user basis or per user mile basis. Imagine everything else that could be done with that money if applied to the delivery of other human services.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:38 a.m.

Many of the benefits that the mayor and other proponents of commuter train service expect will not occur even under the best of circumstances. Commuters living more than ten minutes travel from a railway station will likely use other means for getting to work. I believe that the vast majority of commuters will experience lengthier trips to and from the railway stations. Trains will be unable to sustain 100 mph because they will need to slow down miles before stopping at the four intermediary stations along the way. After stopping for up to several minutes to allow the exchange of passengers, the train will need to slowly accelerate back to 100 mph. For the overall rail trip the traveling time will likely be 40 to 45 minutes similar to the present experience. No one has discussed the cost of commuting. The cheaper the tickets the more subsidies communities supporting rail transportation will have to provide. Although federal dollars may be available for capital expenses associated with laying track and maybe even building a railway station, neither federal nor state dollars will be available to communities to pay for maintenance and operating expenses. Ann Arbor tax payers will have to pay millions of dollars annually through a new millage in order to maintain railway services. Buses remain the most efficient and flexible means for commuting which is why bus service is emphasized by the RTA. Like in Chicago, Boston and New York express bus service can facilitate rapid movement of commuters over distances and may challenge rail service in the time needed to get people to and from their jobs.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 11:37 a.m.

Commuter trains get up to speed much faster than the diesel or coal powered trains you're thinking of. Plus, once you get out of the rat race- that's a terrible way to start the day- and let someone else do the driving, you'll be hooked. It's the experience at either end of the train ride that will spell success or failure. If you can get to your final destination easily and quickly, it can work. The other thing is- the trains need to have late runs so people can stay late at the office or go out for a beer after work (or the Tiger game) without having to take a $90 taxi home.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:32 a.m.

Doesn't Amtrak already serve A2 and Detroit?Another waste of money.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:32 a.m.

I think they should have a train/shuttle connecting UMich, Michigan State and Wayne State as well as the DTW airport, maybe including Eastern, Western, Central, Grand Valley State, etc. so students and staff can easily travel from campus to campus. Unless they can solve the problem of security/frequency, the prospect of commuter train to Detroit downtown won't be all that positive.

Laura Jones

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:30 a.m.

Awesome! We live in outside Ann Arbor and would use the line for airport commuting frequently and for trips into Detroit. All the put downs of Detroit indicate to me folks have not been there lately. Downtown is nice and has a lot to offer people day and evening. Going to Detroit is even more attractive when driving and parking isn't required! Getting around on foot is easy once you are downtown. Once could also travel to Windsor this way - just take the bus across. I see tremendous benefit from this rail line and a lot more increased traffic both ways. Look at other thriving cities and you will see how beneficial commuter rails are for building cities. Putting it down is simply silly. We need this kind of infrastructure to get back on par with other thriving cities - it benefits everyone. (traffic, roads, etc)


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:08 p.m.

There is already good airport communting via bus. It is cheap and dependable. As for its being easy to get around on foot once you are downtown, I disagree. Points of interest are miles apart.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 3:29 a.m.

And I quote: "And I want to be very clear, that is with 80 percent federal funding, which is a great thing, but the university is one of our partners in that and will help us to come up with matching funds," he said, mentioning MDOT and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority as other potential partners. So just where does this idiot think the Feds get their money from? A tree? Federal dollars are taxpayer dollars. this guy is grossly out of touch with reality. I just do not get how people keep re-electing him. Can someone please explain?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

It is usually a good bet that if you need to postulate that someone is an idiot in order to understand their positions, then its probably you who are missing something rather obvious. Breaking news here....the mayor understands that federal dollars come from taxpayers. The point he is making is that no new local taxes, or very few, will have to be raised in order to fund this. And that the federal money is going to be raised and dispersed by the federal government no matter whether this project goes ahead or not. If we don't get that money, it will be spent on other projects in other places, so the existence of this project will not add to the federal tax burden. It is a competition to see who gets the federal money that will be spent in any case.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

1. Detroit is bankrupt. How would commuters get from this Detroit rail station to their destinations? "The University of Michigan has identified 10,900 of their employees who live in a zip code along that rail line," Hieftje said. "In Ypsilanti, there are 4,000 people with an Ypsilanti zip code who work just at the U of M. This doesn't include the private employers." 2. Just because a certain number of UM employees live in zip codes near a rail line or in neighboring towns, does not translate to those employees using a rail line for commuting to work. 3. The UM, in its infinite wisdom, should ASK these teeming masses living along the rail line if they would actually use it for commuting. Do a survey, which UM is good at. Making assumptions about the potential use of a rail line for commuting to and from UM without actually asking potential commuters is a recipe for failure. 4. There are a lot of factors affecting the use of public transit such as a rail line for commuting: the cost of the train ride both ways, cost of parking at either end, safety of the parking lots and safety on the train, train schedule and frequency of runs per day, how commuters are supposed to get from a train station to their destination, etc. 5. Employees driving cars to and from work also potentially make other stops along the way, perhaps to run errands, take care of other business, etc. Once again, Ann Arbor and Ypsi are not dense, urban areas such as on the east coast where mass transit works well and can be cost effective for daily commutes. Cities like Boston have built in transit infrastructure and the population to support commuter rails, buses and subways.

Laurence Krieg

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 4:18 p.m.

@JRW, Good thinking, but take it a little farther... 1) Detroit is going bankrupt. Yes, but that doesn't mean Michigan won't follow it into bankruptcy if we continue to (a) let our largest metro area slide into the sewer, and (b) rule out all transportation options that aren't highway-based. 2) True, but only a small fraction of UM employees opting for the train would make a lot of trains full of people. 3) Yes, similar surveys have been done, and should be done within the next few months. However, see your point 4... 4) Several of these factors are actually under the control either of the people who run the train, or the University. For example, parking permits at the U are pretty expensive now, and if the U decides they just don't want to throw up any more parking structures, the price will go up even further. Add to this the U's ability to subsidize train tickets (as they do bus passes) in order to save money elsewhere, and you will see larger proportions of U employees riding the train. 5) Two solutions for this: (a) Many places where there are commuter stations have stores in or around the stations, making shopping easy going to or from work. (b) In places with commuter rail in the US, there are large park-and-ride lots near stations; people get in their cars to go home and can stop on the way. "Once again, Ann Arbor and Ypsi are not dense, urban areas such as on the east coast where mass transit works well and can be cost effective for daily commutes." The SE Michigan RTA area has an average density of 851 people per square mile. Compare this with the Dallas Metro area, with a million more people that SE Michigan but only 722 per sq.mi. Yet Dallas has three light rail lines and two commuter rail lines. The reason places like NY, Boston, and Chicago are denser is that they never dismantled their local/regional rail systems. The only way SE Michigan will be able to start attracting businesses and people is growing its rail transit options.


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 1:26 a.m.

JRW, this is the best thought-out comment on this article. You are correct.

Sean Thomas

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 5:18 p.m.

I don't think the stops in ypsi and ann arbor are really meant to be used to commute between. It would just be a hassle to go all the way to ann arbor from ypsi to go to detroit.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:22 a.m.

Excellent points! If you imagine yourself trying to use the commuter railroad as it is presently designed you will discover costly inconveniences that will discourage its use.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:20 a.m.

How exciting!!! We will be riding it all the time! We love taking the Amtrak to Detroit and Pontiac, so much nicer than driving!


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:03 a.m.

In principle, a good idea. Ann Arbor s growing as a regional destination, and our roads and parking can't hande it all. But just four round trips a day means that you might have to wait for your train for a long time, making it impractical for a daily commute for many. Commuter rail that works usually runs hourly, or even semi-hourly during peak times. But I'm not sure the demand to justify that is there yet.

Laurence Krieg

Fri, Jun 21, 2013 : 3:56 p.m.

@Kafka - so you want to start with 10 runs each way daily? Sounds great! You paying for all that? Obviously, they have to make a modest start and build from there. The first paved road in the US was not an Interstate. @Veracity (=Mendacity) If you're so sure, share your crystal ball with the rest of us, OK? AA Amtrak station use grew 11% between May 2012 and May 2013. Only those who willfully ignore current trends can state, with apparent authority, "...does not justify commuter service and never will". @RUK, You seem to be suggesting that we wait until the whole region collapses with gridlock, then say, "Why didn't these idiots do something while there was time?" Short-term thinking did not build our country!


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:41 p.m.

They're not sure the demand is there yet either. They just want to get this new train station built. THEN see if maybe there might be demand. Typical dog wagging when you're playing with someone else's money.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:17 a.m.

The demand does not justify commuter service and never will.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:52 a.m.

I know you guys are capable of looking at maps... This commuter rail in Ann Arbor will then connect to the M-1 Rail going South at New Center and has like 5 stops south all the way to the River front.... The M-1 Rail is beginning construction this year (with private money)... Detroit is on the verge of a major turn around thanks to the vision of Dan Gilbert... Unfortunately most people don't notice these things until all the upper middle class yuppies move in... So, this transportation system is brilliant because you'll be able not only to commute to Detroit easily... but once there... go to all the best places easily along the M-1... which does connect to the People Mover... If you haven't noticed millions of dollars are flooding into the downtown and riverfront area.... Gilbert is packing his downtown buildings with new companies.... and all those people have incentive to live in downtown now that there is some smart privately funded urban planning going on... This would be a good time to invest...


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 9:03 p.m.

I cannot count the number of times Detroit has been on the "verge of a major turn around" in the last 30 years. That phrase has been used countless times and yet Detroit continues to sink. It would take a miracle at this point to turn Detroit around. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see it; I just don't believe it.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:28 p.m.

" Detroit is on the verge of a major turn around" Did the emergency manager tell you that?

Cornelius Nestor

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:15 a.m.

What if there's no Detroit to go to in three years?


Mon, Jun 17, 2013 : 3:21 p.m.

Then we'll go to Windsor!

buvda fray

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:44 a.m.

Where is your optimism? Just because there is no Detroit today doesn't mean there won't be one in 3 years. With convenience stops in Ypsilanti, Inkster and Highland Park, it could be called the Ostrich Express. (Note head buried in sand).

Basic Bob

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:58 a.m.

Billy, I can smell the fear.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:53 a.m.

But just think of the people left in detroit that it will allow to easily and cheaply travel to our town...


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:30 p.m.

While the mayor enjoyed his "isolated island" train-fantasy pre-election photo op, the true Regional Transit Authority (RTA) board was meeting in Troy. Members representing Gov. Snyder, the city of Detroit, and Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and Washtenaw counties met today to discuss true regional mass transit. The RTA is the sole designated recipient of federal funding for transportation projects. The only train project in the works is the high-speed passenger rail system from downtown Detroit to New Center area. Otherwise, busses are the connecting modality of choice in the near future. Nice fantasy and self promotion, mayor. . .


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:14 a.m.

Buses... yes, that is how I understand the RTA also.

Ellis Sams

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

It is unfortunate that more people don't embrace commuter rail travel. Rail travel was the state of the art for public transportation in the 19th century. If it was good enough for them, it is more than good enough for us.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 10:18 p.m.

Sure, we are still driving our Horseless Carriges, are we not?


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 2:25 p.m.

I was assuming that was sarcasm ...


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

Remember those bicycles with the really biug front wheel and the really tiny rear wheel? It was good enough for them...


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 4:13 a.m.

... and before rail there were horse drawn carts. How far back do you want to go with the "good enough for them"?


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:20 p.m.

Better get cracking on that train station hub deal parking structure thingy right away!


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:15 p.m.

Wow. A whole "four dozen" a "crowd" that small could be physically counted and should have been no? The number of people that work in Detroit but live in AA are small in number i'd guess, and those that live in Detroit and commute here would be even smaller. And once you get to Detroit, how do you get around the city then? This smells like another expensive Heiftje boondoggle in the works.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 8:57 p.m.

RCDC - A BUS? In Detroit? Have you ever depended on a bus in Detroit? I'm originally from Detroit and the bus service wasn't very good even in it's heyday. It is abysmal now.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 1:27 a.m.

I'm not surprised that a lot of people toured the train - it happens every day at Greenfield Village. People just like to see what that 19th century technology looks like.


Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

Zip cars and buses in Detroit? With a $20 billion deficit, if any of them are running the creditors will scoop them up?

Hot Sam

Sat, Jun 15, 2013 : 12:24 a.m.

""" And once you get to Detroit, how do you get around the city then?""" Armored car???

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:22 p.m.

Yes, about four dozen people were at this press event (so mostly press and project partners, and a few random citizens who showed up on their own). The car is on display tonight as part of the Mayor's Green Fair and open to the general public and I'm told roughly 150 people already passed through it in the first hour of the fair.


Fri, Jun 14, 2013 : 11:21 p.m.

There are zip cars which you can rent....theres also some type of public transportation....called a uhmmmm BUS!?! And you'd actually be surprised as to how many people commute; not only jobs, but schools, casinos, and whatever other business they conduct. Just because you may not and that many people did not show up does not mean that it wont be utilized.