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Posted on Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 1:27 p.m.

Commuter rail cars between Ann Arbor and Detroit slated for test runs starting Monday

By Ryan J. Stanton

Ann Arbor officials are welcoming the news that commuter rail cars between Ann Arbor and Detroit are slated for testing starting Monday.

The realization of commuter rail service in Southeast Michigan is something that local officials and many residents have been anticipating for years, and next week's testing of six newly refurbished, bi-level, stainless-steel commuter rail cars is an indication the initiative is making progress.

The Michigan Department of Transportation said in a news release Friday the rail cars will be run all the way from Pontiac to Jackson. It's expected the cars, which were refurbished by Great Lakes Central Railroad in Owosso, eventually will be used by two proposed commuter rail services.


MDOT said last year it already had this train for a commuter rail line running from Ann Arbor to Ypsilanti, Metro Airport, Dearborn and Detroit, where it would link with the new Woodward Line. Now it has six newly refurbished rail cars that are slated for test runs next week.

Photo courtesy of MDOT

That includes the east-west Ann Arbor-to-Detroit line and the north-south WALLY line linking Ann Arbor and Howell.

Because it's strictly a test of the equipment, MDOT officials said the public is not invited to board the train at this time. Amtrak will operate the test train using its own locomotive, while Amtrak, Great Lakes Central Railroad, MDOT consultants, and the Federal Railroad Administration conduct the testing.

According to MDOT, the new rail cars will be tested at normal operating speeds of up to 79 mph through Wednesday as they move from Pontiac to Jackson and back.

Following successful testing, demonstrations of the commuter rail service could be used for special events in the future, MDOT officials said.

At this time, a sustainable funding source for both commuter rail services is not yet programmed. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments is working on the Ann Arbor-to-Detroit service, and the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority is working on the WALLY service.

Carmine Palombo, SEMCOG's director of transportation programs, could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday.

Palombo told earlier this year that SEMCOG and MDOT were working daily — along with the FRA, Federal Transit Administration, Amtrak and various contractors — and he believed demonstration trains could be up and running sometime within 2012.

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.

MDOT said the cost to refurbish each car was about $310,000, with funding provided by state and federal sources.

The promise of commuter rail service between Ann Arbor and Detroit, as well as high-speed passenger rail from Detroit to Chicago, are reasons why Ann Arbor officials have been working over the last several years toward the goal of building a new Amtrak station on Fuller Road.

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.


Roger Kuhlman

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

How much money is new commuter rail service scheduled to lose each year. What is Amtrak's average annual operating losses? Financial irresponsibility so that certain left-wing special interests and ideological projects can benefit. Corrupt!

Christine Moellering

Mon, Nov 12, 2012 : 5:01 p.m.

I have been waiting and waiting for this to happen. I'm so happy! I can't wait until my husband can take it to work. We live in Ypsilanti and he works in Detroit.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:37 p.m.

$310,000 would translate into how many rides or fares to break even? Small wonder this is funded by state or federal sources (aka your taxes)! Any business wouldn't touch that with a ten foot pole! This is not an example of you get what you pay for but more taxes mean more taxes for less and rip off until the majority is broke!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:47 p.m.

Thrilling development! I do hope that local governments will provide ample funding for rider and station security, too.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:25 p.m.

A light rail system between Ann Arbor and Toledo would be a better idea.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:45 p.m.

In addition to a real S.E. Michigan based light rail transportation system, yes indeed! The one thing I dislike about Amtrak, you can't catch a train to Toledo from A2 or Ypsilanti, at all. So, let's say you're travelling from Kalamazoo to Pittsburgh, PA. Here is the Amtrak route....kid you not. Train from Kalamazoo to Ann Arbor. Bus from Ann Arbor to Toledo (What, there are no trains available? Nope). Get back on the train in Toledo for the ride to Pittsburgh, PA. Do this again coming back. Really, is this the best we can do? Yes, with time, I hope a Toledo route on a local light rail system is added. Personally, I love travelling by train (less stress, room to move around, enjoyable ride, meet nice people for the most part, no turbulence, on the ground instead of in the air...could go on with this list) over an airline anyday.

Steven Taylor

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

If you read about Washtenaw County Interurbans.. An investor back in the 1920's planned to build such a system from A2 to Toledo.. Even bought easements but ran out of funding.. You can see some of the bracing concrete culverts in Pittsfield township along Platt Road.. Particularly south of Bemis (one part is in the park on the SE Corner).


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:28 p.m.

Rail between Ann Aarbor and Detroit is just away to send money to Detroit. Detroiters will not come to Ann Arbor to spend money.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:47 p.m.

With money as tight as it is, shouldn't we be asking many questions, researching the need without paying big bucks to some special interest group claiming to be neutral (why can't we send out a poll to see who would be using this and when), developing sound plans. I like trains and I am very interested in the future of transportation. But answer the questions. OK you get to Detroit by train then what? Take a bus? A taxi? What if the hours are not helpful? How many trains would be going to and from Detroit and Ann Arbor per day. What if the Tiger game runs late, you get out of work late, there's a traffic jam, a home emergency, a study session or meeting, etc. and you can't get back to the train station to catch a train. Or you miss the train for whatever reason. Then what? So rather than voting "no" on my questions or comments, please answer them instead. No answers? I still think that both Detroit and Ann Arbor have other pressing priorities than this. If you don't think that, please explain it. Detroit is essentially bankrupt. Ann Arbor has had two sad pedestrian fatalities. I'll wait for your reply.

Jim Walker

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

With some rare exceptions in a few major urban areas, rail transit systems for commuters run at very large financial losses. The riders will not pay high ticket prices that would actually support the real costs of the system, so public subsidies are needed to prevent bankruptcy. Where do the subsidies come from? Some of the money is diverted from fuel taxes paid by drivers who will very seldom or never use the rail because 1) the routes don't work for them and 2) worse yet, they live in parts of the state where the rail will never exist. What is the morality of taking some of the gas taxes from someone who lives in Sturgis, Gaylord or Marquette to pay for rail in Southeastern Michigan? The rest of the subsidies come from General Funds, monies paid in through various taxes by the vast majority of taxpayers that will very seldom or never ride the rail system. Again what is the morality of having non-riders subsidize systems they will never or virtually never use? Urban rail is almost always a boondoggle, a financial black hole, and an unsustainable business if it had to be private enterprise. At an absolute minimum, setting up urban rail systems that require taxpayer subsidies should be subject to a vote of all of the people that will have to pay for it - whether they would ever use the system, or not. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, Ann Arbor, MI

Great Lakes Lady

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

"The rail cars were purchased from the Metra commuter rail system in northeast Illinois before being refurbished." Are they "green" non-polluting? Are they "fuel efficient"? Or did Chicago dump them due to outdated technology? How much did MDOT pay for purchases of rail cars??

Steven Taylor

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Each car was 'refurbished' at the pricetag of 310K per car.. as mentioned in the article.

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:04 p.m.

Rail CARS use no fuel at all.

Steven Taylor

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:13 a.m.

And we can't forget the almost 1.9 million dollars spent on the 6 pieces of shiny choo-choo train...

Steven Taylor

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:10 a.m.

Since I've not found anything in the documents provided by either or SEMCOG. I'm running off what I can google in my spare time regarding costs since you proponents of the system think it's just so peachy keen. I'll provide citations here and hopefully my basic math holds up. Ok. First link: This says here, that waaay back in 2009, good old Stimulus package came in.. Funding in the amount of 244 Million for the corridor running Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac was allocated in the ARRA. Then in 2010 they got another 141 Million. Running tally is now 385 Million taxpayer dollars... Ok. So far so good. From Amtraks website.. The route from Chicago to Pontiac equals 304 miles. Ok... Next step. finding out estimated cost per mile... See this link here (Can't attest to it's validity but it was one of the first few links available regarding "Cost per mile for HSR(High Speed Rail)". Ok I'll use the conservative numbers provided in the link of 34 million per mile. (Now take into account, HSR which I'm sure is the ultimate goal will require extensive upgrades to the existing track beds/rails/electricity transmission/right of way and goodness knows what else, i'm not a railroad design engineer). Simple division of 385 Million at 34 million per mile equals a grand total of..... drum roll 9.3 miles of track.. You'd make to maybe Michigan City Indiana after the Chicago Transit authority transmission lines stop. Interesting aside, when I lived in Charlotte, NC from 2004/2008 they had just completed and opened up the LYNX light rail system.. A 9 mile boondoggle... Guess what the estimated final price tag for this bit of fiscal irresponsibility. 521 Million... Seems on par almost doesn't it.. Anyone care to correct my numbers or add more financing into this? I'd love supporters to tell me where the other funds if there are more will come from.

Steven Taylor

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:51 p.m.

Mrs. Armentrout, thank you so much for providing the white paper resource.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:18 p.m.

One place to start is the white paper by People for A2 Parks. This is not a pro- or anti- rail piece but it has a lot of facts and figures about the cost and likelihood of a commuter rail in our area.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 4:09 a.m.

Thank you President Obama, I have a new way, to see the destruction of Detroit. Can't wait!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:31 a.m.

From the rail map, getting to Pontiac takes you through downtown Detroit: Why not run a bus service through Plymouth, Farmington Hills, and Royal Oak? Wouldn't this connect communities with more commuters?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:20 a.m.

Factual Copied Quote from Article: "Palombo told earlier this year that SEMCOG and MDOT were working daily — along with the FRA, Federal Transit Administration, Amtrak and various contractors — and he believed demonstration trains could be up and running sometime within 2012." Irresponsible Speculation Quote: "Demonstration destination centers with enough population and density from a mix use of commuters could be up and running sometime within 2050."


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 3:11 a.m.

hey city of ann arbor, lets get your mickey mouse ride to the airport on time and facility upgrades to handle multi modal transportation before you try something like rail ok? speaking from experience, very amusing.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

YAY!! This is a great idea. Hope it goes forward!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:04 a.m.

Evidently a commuter bus in California with a $1 million price tag burned in a riot doesn't surprise anyone but $310k is a tragedy. For a daily commuter who spends on average 2+ hours a day in traffic along these routes may see this as a great solution. Good luck MDOT!

two canoes

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:54 a.m.

woo hoo!!! Can't wait!!!


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:48 a.m.

I drive to Detroit for many enjoyable events. I can't wait for a good public system and I sure do not understand why Ann Arborites fight the plans. I travel to many metro cities that have public rail systems. They are heavily used by the public and very convenient. Give up your gas gusslers and parking permits and save your earth.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 8:19 p.m.

Also why should we pay more taxes so you get a train ride for the enjoyable events? Must be nice where you're sitting. Some people have bills to pay and can't afford enjoyable events or travel.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:10 p.m.

Not against it really. I just want to know how realistic is it. Is the train station by the enjoyable events you go to? Or would you have to take a bus or taxi to get where you need to go?

Ron Granger

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:57 a.m.

Have they figured out why that recent train collision happened?

Steven Taylor

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:43 a.m.

That funny thing called infrastructure, possibly a buckle in the track. I still dunno what caused that derailment outside of Jackson about a year ago... Hell, it may have even been a penny.. we gotta rub those together these days...


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:38 a.m.

To bad there is not a stop at Metro Airport. This would probably generate more revenue than going into the city.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:30 a.m.

OK let's say I take a train to Detroit. Then what? What if the train station is not near my job? Or the Tigers or Lions or a Detroit Museum or whatever. Oh you want me to wait at a bus stop in Detroit so I can be mugged? Or take multiple buses on Detroit to get to where I need to go? Makes good sense to me. What if my job hours are different than what the train schedule is? So I'd have to take a train 2-3 hours early then wait 2-3 hours after work to get home. That's a pretty long day. I wasn't aware that there are so many commuters going back and forth to Detroit and Ann Arbor to justify this. Why this sudden interest in linking Ann Arbor with Detroit. I like trains and I kind of like Detroit but this push is perplexing. Doesn't Detroit or Ann Arbor have bigger problems to deal with than this? Before I show you the money, show me the need and plan.

Sam S Smith

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:17 p.m.

I'm not against trains or the future of transportation. I am asking real questions. Perhaps rather than voting "no" on comments you deem worthy of this, you can answer my questions instead.

two canoes

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:56 a.m.

I would work in Detroit if I didn't have to drive. That is out of the question. I'll reconsider when the train begins.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1 a.m.

On my daily commute I see more traffic heading into Ann Arbor than out of it. Then the really heavy traffic doesn't start again til either M14 or I94 head east past I275.

Steven Taylor

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

All of you folks so in favor of this wonderfully novel idea. (I keep hearing the 'monorail' song from the Simpsons playing over and over in my head).. You all fail and haven't answered the simplest of questions that many commenters, myself included have asked. Where and HOW are you gonna pay for this when the system as it stands is about ready to go belly up? You can't get blood from turnips folks.. We just gonna keep asking the fed to print more money? Someone, anyone answer that simple question. Per person/Per mile cost.. Initial cost (Beyond the shiny 300K per unit traincar). Till then yer blowin' smoke. Give me something concrete other than.. "Well, roads is bad, stop expanding, or repairing them, force people to take the train." You force people to do something, they're gonna rebel, and ya'll ain't even laid the real infrastructure yet.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 1:13 a.m.

Why Cash, you know the answer, we've been putting the war costs on the VISA/CHINA card - so now you propose upping the credit limit on that to pay for choo choos?


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:24 a.m.

How have we been paying for wars for the past 10 years??? Time for us to rebuild America instead of the Middle East.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:57 p.m.

Obama is going to give it to us. After he borrows it from China.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:17 p.m.

Michigan had excellent public transportation until the Big 3 car makers pushed to use public money to build roads so more people would buy their cars. Cars turned out to be ecologically unsound and certainly not cost efficient. Government used tax monies and built roads and people started buying more cars. The Interstate system of highways was originally devised and built for fast movement of our military in case Russia attacked us. That was back when we were encouraged to build fallout shelters and the schools had bomb attack drills, believing hiding in basements would protect us from the radiation that would clear up in a few days. it's time to start looking toward the future or we may not have one.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 3:13 a.m.

The interstate road system followed the model of the German autobahn. There were national security implications but this was NOT the main reason they were built. Eisenhower quickly realized the trade and commerce rationale far outweighed the need to move away from one smoking hole in the ground to another. In the late 1930's plans were already underway for an interstate system and were delayed by the WW-II. During the late 30's to the early 40's, the simple drive from Detroit to Baltimore took four days by truck - no way to run an economy. Nice try on the military industrial complex though.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:38 a.m.

Unless you live in an urban center, cars are quite efficient. We could make this argument about the nobility of urban living, but that's just not a reality for a population that's now quite spread out.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:01 p.m.

What is funny to me about this discussion is that I can remember that the Georgetown area in DC used a lot of similar arguments to keep the metro out of their part of town. They basically didn't want to be connected via mass transit to the poorer parts of town. Now, I think they are regretting that because it kind of sucks to get around if you live in Georgetown and now the city is a lot nicer.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 1:10 a.m.

And Wash Metro is massively subsidized by the Federal Government. Even Dingell couldn't get that much play dough.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 1:08 a.m.

@Ypsi, I suggest you check current real estate values for a house in Georgetown compared to one right next to the metro station in say, Anacostia. Georgetown residents are quite happy in their multi-million $$$ plus homes.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Actually, the BRT routes proposed by Governor Snyder would probably be a better way for people to commute into Detroit from various areas in the metro area. But it might compromise local bus service I agree with you, the Washington Metro is wonderful. But it is serving a much larger population (5.6 million in the metro area) and arguably a more important city. Most of all, it is a modern rail system, not refurbished cars running on a freight line.

Fat Bill

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:59 p.m.

One of the most effective ways to bring ridership up for mass transit systems is to quit expanding the freeways. People will eventually get used to the notion of catching the train to work; the railroad infrastructure is way cheaper to maintain than 8 lanes of asphalt. Portland, Oregon's light rail came about as an alternative to expanding the freeway system and slicing up the town. Integrated mass transit may still be a ways off, but you have to start somewhere.

Dog Guy

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:48 p.m.

Here's to spending my federal and state tax dollars on a car-a-month-train-set subscription: Whooo! Whooo!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:20 p.m.

It is absolutely irresponsible that taxpayer money is being used to fix up rail cars before we have funding for the larger project. We can't afford an adequate police force for our city but we can waste money on junk like this?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:55 p.m.

Maybe we can sell them for a profit.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:45 p.m.

Woman in ypsilanti - You know that it does not work that way.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:03 p.m.

If we can afford to waste our money on junk like foreign wars and the biggest military in the world, we should be able to afford a little mass transit. And police protection too now that I think about it.

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

The schedule shows 11 stops next week: Pontiac Birmingham Royal Oak Detroit's New Center Dearborn Airport (Henry Ruff Road) Ypsilanti Ann Arbor Dexter Chelsea Jackson


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 2:41 a.m.

If I think of this correctly, you would have to be on Haggerty to connect with a train. There really is no way to get one of these trains from Canton. Canton has no direct rail access. Sad really. What time is it going to go thru Ypsilanti? I can't wait to see something like this. I'd love to see the neighbors off Beck or Sheldon have one built near their homes. Not.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:32 a.m.

Sometimes I think when we lose a sense of place, we lose its history. The location at Henry Ruff Road is perhaps best known as Eloise.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:54 p.m.

Thanks for this, it is what I was wondering, how many stops will there be and where? Also, does this mean if that system come to fruition, these will all be stops? What I see missing however is a stop in the Plymouth/Canton/Van Buren area where a lot of folks live who commute to Ann Arbor. Finally, how long is this going to take? That many stops mean the train will not reach high speeds (79?). It takes a train a long time to get up to speed and a long time to come to a stop. Last time I took a train was from Windsor to Toronto and I thought I was going to age a year or two because of all the stops and how long it took to stop.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:43 p.m.

I had no idea that all of these locations had stations or platforms from which passengers can embark and debark trains. If every train stops at every station traveling to and from Ann Arbor to Detroit commuters will not save time over driving. If bus transportation is not coordinated with scheduled stops at the Airport station then few passengers will use the rail between Detroit and the airport and Ann Arbor and the airport. Who can afford to keep an extra car parked at the station?

David Frye

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:41 p.m.

Thanks, this is helpful information. I see that Henry Ruff Street (not Road) in Romulus intersects with the railroad about 6 miles north of the main Delta terminal at DTW. Are there plans for a shuttle to the airport itself?

Bob W

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:12 p.m.

I hope this works better than past attempts. I've lived in Ann Arbor for more than 40 years and way back there were commuter rail attempts. The first was just riding regularly scheduled trains in both directions, then there was the Budd Car, a single diesel/electric car that passed for streamlined back in the 40's I think. This article does not mention where the service terminates in Detroit. Back then, it stopped at the old Michigan Central station and required transferring to buses to get to the downtown area. This, combined with a stop in Dearborn made it a long and tedious trip under the best of circumstances. Another problem was the frequency of scheduled trains. Unless you had a job with fixed quiting times, good luck. I was a programmer then a manager and leaving work at any given time was a pipe dream. Our passes were accepted on a later passenger train, but even that was not late enough many times and I found myself walking to the Greyhound station just to get back to Ann Arbor. Like I said, hope it goes better for folks who might try this if it comes to fruition.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:44 a.m.

It is my understanding that trains will stop at the Detroit Amtrak Station near Henry Ford Hospital. The new train being built down Woodward Avenue would give a quick and easy connection to all locations along Woodward Avenue in Detroit.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:43 p.m.

Thanks for your post. It brings out many of the reasons the train service wasn't used then (around 1980?) and likely won't be used by most now.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:09 p.m.

In the 60's when we lived in Ypsi, my husband took the commuter train from there to Detroit a couple of times a week. Having only one car at the time, it was a great help. I don't know why they dropped the service - seems they've been talking about replacing it for years.


Sun, Nov 11, 2012 : 2:28 a.m.

I remember my parents doing the same thing. Except we did it out of Ann Arbor. I do remember the Ypsilanti station being very active. Are they doing the same here? And will there be enough parking?

Ryan J. Stanton

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

Here's the latest update report on the A2-to-Detroit commuter rail effort provided to me by Eli Cooper from the city of Ann Arbor:

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:52 p.m.

Thanks so much for getting this additional information, Ryan. I think I have in fact seen this on the SEMCOG site, but not in such a compact form. You'll note that most of it is about the cars. However, an intriguing statement that "funding has been identified" for station design needs more amplification. Identified and secured? From what source? What are the contingincies (matching funds, timelines, etc.)


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:02 p.m.

There are no studies that prove that crime goes up with the mass transit. However, there are studies that show that mass transit increases property values. If I were you, I would be looking into buying property now that will be in walking distance of the stations.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:31 p.m.

Lawd bejeezus! The lack of a decent public transportation system in S.E. Michigan hasn't stopped crime in the burbs nor will a finally decent public transportation add to crime in the burbs. This type of "we have utopia crime free area in the burbs" grandiose thinking mentally is why our public transportation system look the same as it did 40 + years ago....minus a bus route or two here and there. Let's move FORWARD with this test project and on this one, I applaud Governor Snyder's MDOT along with Congressman Dingell work with planning what the FUTURE S.E. Michigan public transit should look like instead of living in the past.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

Talk to residents along the SMART bus route on Gratiot. The crime along this route is higher than inside the cities proper.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:10 p.m.

How many of those studies involved Detroit? I think you people fail to realize how bad it really is in that shell of a city. I worked and went to school in Detroit for 12+ years, take the rose-colored glasses off.

Jon Saalberg

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:52 p.m.

Amazing. Here in the U.S., public transit seems to be about as appealing as the flu, even though the rest of the world seems to make it work just fine. Oh, then there are cities such as Chicago, New York, Boston, etc., that have excellent transit systems. It's the arrogance of "I'll travel in my car wherever I want, whenever I want" that makes mass transit a hard sell. You'd think $4/gallon gas would make it more appealing, but apparently not.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:08 p.m.

@ MS: Maybe the lack of mass transit is one of the reasons why Detroit's decline has been so much worse than other cities? In other urban areas the poor at least have decent mass transit to get to jobs in more affluent suburbs. In Detroit, where a high percent of households don't have a car, getting to the burbs for a job is a nightmare.

Steve Bean

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:42 p.m.

MS, Detroit is simply the canary in the coal mine.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:22 p.m.

No, it's Detroit that makes mass transit a hard sell. No city in the history of the world has experienced this type of decline.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:50 p.m.

LOVE IT. Very excited. Keep the rails coming.....


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11 p.m.

i'd love to have a train from ann arbor to detroit, considering that I have drove from ann arbor to detroit everyday for the last 3 years of my life for school...this would've been very convenient


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:39 p.m.

Please share information about how often you'd use the train service and how the maximum you are willing to pay for a round trip between Ann Arbor and Detroit?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

This is a terrible idea. We do not need to give dangerous criminals a ride to Ann Arbor from Detroit. When the buses started bringing them to Westland is when the crime went out of control and the city started to go down hill. Do we really want to do that to Ann Arbor? We pay a lot of money to live here and don't want this.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:23 p.m.

Umm...what makes you think these "criminals" can't get in a car and do the same thing? Also, what makes you think Ann Arbor is crime free?

Basic Bob

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Westland did not import criminals from Detroit. I know a few and they all grew up there. Ann Arbor also has its share of homegrown criminals. They didn't take the bus from Ypsilanti.

Elaine F. Owsley

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:28 p.m.

Good grief!! They can take a Greyhound to Ann Arbor and a Taxi from there. They can get a ride in a stolen car. I don't think there's going to an invasion by train. Besides, we have our own criminals around here.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:19 p.m.

The comment I wanted to make got blocked by the automatic filter on the site. It's a shame that I can't express how ignorant and rude I find you and your post to be.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:30 p.m.

What is it with the extreme hostility toward mass transit in metro Detroit? So many major cities (NYC, Boston, DC) have great systems that make life easier for residents. Here the mere idea is treated like some fatal disease.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:09 p.m.

"Look at California, though. On the verge of the largest bankruptcy the world has ever known. And yet they keep spending and spending (maybe because they expect the rest of the country to bail them out)." Here we go again....mixing two separate events that have nothing to do with one another. Quickly, let's cite why SOME of California cities are facing bankruptcy. Specifically, this is all about Proposition 13 of 1979, pushed by a Republican backer and assisted with launching then CA's Governor Ronnie Reagan into the U.S. White House. Proposition 13 requires a 2/3rd vote of California's Legislature to increase needed revenues (i.e. taxes). Since enacted, California's Education System -once the envy of the nation- has fell to the 40th percentile (out of 50th states) with meeting the needs of its public student population. The State Parks system is in disarray and cities are dying for shared revenue. Lucky for California, the People have finally seen the light and enacted another Proposition on Tuesday to add revenue back into public schools along with electing a Democratic Supermajority to its' State House and Senate. Amazingly enough, this is what GOP associated groups like Americans for Fiscal Responsibly tried to do in Michigan with Proposal 5 - the 2/3rd Tax Amendment but, the People soundly voted it down. Now back to Public Transportation in S.E. Michigan, please....


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 10:18 p.m.

Northside, Not all of us think the way of the 1970's. Stuck in a decade that the best in public transportation was catching a ride in a gas-powered vehicle without the proper ventilation system smogging up our air and killing the environment surrounding us. Some of us our in envy of the robust transportation systems in Chicago, New York, Seattle and other places were driving a car is not a necessary to get around. Frankly I'm one of these people and believe me, a lot more of us are out there than the public transportation haters, as I like to call them. Personally, I LOVE to pieces Chicago where one can catch the L from Barrington Heights to Downtown Chicago,take a stroll on Lake Michigan beaches, visit the Lincoln Zoo, Navy Pier and Cheesecake Factory....then hop the L again to the Heights. Out-of-Towners don't understand why we "cling to our cars", enboden with the rush associated with being on the freeway in the morning and late afternoon. Heck, I don't blame them as these are valid question. Let's hope the naysayers (and they will keep saying no, because its easier than Yes...let's move forward) don't put the brakes on this awesome test project!

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:09 p.m.

And Chicago. Our daughter traveled by train to and from work in downtown Chicago every day for several years. In a lot of European areas you can get to the major work/business areas by train. Try it, you'll like it.

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Great comments @Northside and @Brad! @Brad: in addition to the problem you've outlined, there is a tendency for people to say without government backing we can't do x, even though x is viable without government support as a business. Also, I have seen many instances where people won't work collaboratively for the good of all, but instead work for their personal self interest (they are corrupt) even if that destroys an important project that would greatly benefit the region. They would rather the project fail, then to see someone else, and not them, benefit!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:32 p.m.

One thing larger cities have to offer is density and more people going into the same central city, often with connecting bus service at one or both ends of the commuter routes. Other prompts to take public transportation in cities such as Boston, New York, and Chicago are (1) heavy road traffic and (2) expensive parking in central cities. This brings up the question of how much commuter trains can charge and retain passengers. If SE Michigan commuters were charged as high of percent of actual cost as commuters in those cities, even fewer would want to take the train between Ann Arbor and Detroit, especially when some of the commuters to Detroit work at the Wayne State area medical center, which is not near the train station. In Chicago, people who work at the Northwestern U. medical center in downtown Chicago can take shuttle buses that run amazingly frequent during the busiest hours. That part of infrastructure is missing in SE Michigan. The infrastructure has to be in place in Detroit and Dearborn, etc. in order for it to work, not just Ann Arbor. Cooperative, Michi-Vans are more flexible than rail service and even those aren't flexible enough for many who commute out of Ann Arbor. For many who commute, it comes down to carpooling or going solo.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:21 p.m.

Look at California, though. On the verge of the largest bankruptcy the world has ever known. And yet they keep spending and spending (maybe because they expect the rest of the country to bail them out). We love children in part because they have wonderful imaginations with no limits. Somebody, though, has to be the parent and say "no" once in a while. This is one of those times when a simple "no" is appropriate.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:05 p.m.

I'm not sure that attitude prevails everywhere in SE Mich.....there are some regressive people who can't envision growth and a youth movement in SE Mich. Maybe with this transit, all of our UM grads won't be taking the train home to Chicago when they graduate, but might decide our area is progressing to provide mass transit for the future.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:03 p.m.

NYC, Boston, DC all have things to offer besides crime.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:57 p.m.

This really seems to be the culture of Southeast Michigan. Do an experiment - find a bulletin board and post something with the title "Hey, I have a great business idea!" and see how long it takes for people to tell you that you are an idiot, that your idea is foolish, that it will never work, that you are a dreamer, etc. etc. Now post the same thing on a bulletin board anywhere near Silicon Valley and see that opposite reaction. We seem to have a "Yes, we can't" attitude.

Erik L.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:01 p.m.

I personally think something like this would be great. For anyone that says "who would want to go to Detroit?" Have some pride in your state! Detroit is a great city with lots of offer. Yes it is rough around the edges, but who in Michigan isnt? I think it would be great to have as an option for transport to Detroit. There are so many times I would like to go down there and have a few drinks at the micro brews, see a tigers game, the lions or whatever, but I worry about drinking too much and being over the limit. Being able to take the train would be an easy and safe alternative. I think the state should do everything it can to get more people to Detroit. But the rail between brighton and ann arbor seems pointless.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:34 p.m.

The question isn't whether there's taxation for services in this country. The question (at least as how Erik presented it) is whether we should be asked to pay for a service that's primary function is entertainment. We have safety inspectors for amusement parks. But the parks are expected to pay for those inspections, and the parks that do not run a profit are quickly shuttered. Yes, a government provides services that we can't provide on our own. A train system would be appropriate under the right circumstances. I'm not against all trains. I'm against these trains, particularly WALLY.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Maccabre - Actually, taxpayers do subsidize such a service. They're called taxis. And taxpayers pay for the roads they run on, as well as for the police and emergency services needed to keep those roads safe. They also pay for inspectors who try to make sure you don't get food poisoning from that plate of nachos with week-old ground beef you ordered at the club, but they're kind of short-staffed due to budget cuts these days, so let's hope you've got a cast-iron stomach.

Erik L.

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:43 p.m.

Yes, right now there may not be enough people traveling to Detroit to work to support an idea like this. The problem with people in Michigan is that they all live in the past and never look to the future. Detroit and Michigan has been in a rough spot for awhile, but there is a lot of growth and companies moving back to Detroit. It might not be the safest place in the world, but a lot of places arn't, I have never had any issues down in Detroit and now have a lot of friends making that choice to move down to areas like Mid-town, where a LOT of young people are moving. Why? because they have pride in Detroit and want to support its growth. I personally want to see Detroit to continue to grow, and in 5 years we may really need a mass transport system like this. If we don't look to the future and we don't make decisions to support our states future growth, its pretty simple.... we just won't grow. We already pay for some much crap as tax payers, I would love to actually have my money go towards something I would use. If your to Scared to go down to Detroit because of what you have heard thats fine, feel free to stay home and complain about how bad Michigan's economy. I'll be the one out there doing what I can to support Michigans local businesses and organizations.

Steven Taylor

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

Ghost of Tom Joad in your infinite wisdom, where do you think this public investment is gonna come from. Non existent tax dollars? Unicorn farts? As Mrs Armentrout mentioned about it's fiscally irresponsible. Period, full stop. 2-3 trips a day... Amtrak already does that. poorly, but it already exists... and yet here we go trying to reinvent the wheel.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

I, too, would like a service that picks me up at my front door, and takes me to my favorite club, where I can drink all I want and watch an entertaining sporting event or a play or maybe even a car show. The difference between you and I is that I don't expect the taxpayers to subsidize my personal entertainment choices. The sole reason for backing mass transit should be to get massive numbers of people to their jobs. And the financial case for the commuter trains just isn't there. Detroit simply doesn't have the job density to make this a cost-effective plan.

Steven Taylor

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:17 p.m.

Eric, I think the old phrase is.. You can put lipstick on a pig and it's still a pig. I have pride in my state, but I also have a duty to myself and my children by not saddling myself and my children and my childrens children with what equates to an expensive "Feelgoodism" You say it's 'rough around the edges'.. I'm sorry, but it's worse than that.. It's downright dangerous and folly to think otherwise.. I had a discussion with city councilman Mr. Murdock of Ypsilanti via Facebook within the last hour and I cannot find one shred reason economically or otherwise that this is an even REMOTELY good idea.

Ghost of Tom Joad

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:11 p.m.

it's easier for them to be curmudgeons and nay-sayers. anything that requires public investment is apparently anathema to civilized society.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Why on earth would you want to connect to Detroit? No one I know even wants to drive through it! It is a dead city full of crime. How about you fix the roads before spending money on train cars we may never use!

Elaine F. Owsley

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:07 p.m.

There are people who work in Detroit living out here - and apparently you haven't been to Detroit in a long, long time. It was convenient especially for those who worked downtown (like my husband at the Detroit News) because that's where the station was.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

@westfringe If you think that all of Detroit is horrible, it must be because you haven't been there lately. The city, and especially the downtown/midtown/newcenter areas are doing pretty well. I want Ypsilanti to be connected to Detroit because I enjoy going there. I see plays regularly and sometimes go to the opera when I can afford it. The live music can't be beat. One of the best used book stores in the entire country is there. Eastern Market is amazing as well. If I could get there without driving, it would be awesome. I would rather have this train than spend money expanding roads. How about we get this train going before spending money on roads we wouldnt need to use if the train was running?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:49 p.m.

I drive to and from Detroit all the time. If you don't take advantage of the good things that there are in Detroit, it's your loss.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:45 p.m.

Hey, I'm a corporate lawyer working in Downtown Detroit. I'd ride the heck out of the train if it ran early & often enough. And I'm willing to pay a fairly high price for internet access. I'd love to get some work done in the AM and a snooze in the PM.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:09 p.m.

Thanks for the link Kyle. Looks like a very small group of people would use the service that we all would pay for. I fail to see how linking a prosperous city like A2 to dangerous crime ridden slum is beneficial in any way. I live in Washtenaw county because I don't want to be a part of metro Detroit.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8 p.m.

There are still jobs in Detroit; four or five of them, from what I've heard.

Kyle Mattson

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:52 p.m.

Hi Westf- Just for reference, here is a story from this past winter about some individuals who currently use Amtrak to commute between the cities each day.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:30 p.m.

The commuter rail project is a fantasy. It embodies the same sort of data-based, clear-eyed thinking that we experienced in the recent attempt at a county-wide transit plan. There is no funding and no organizational framework for either the East-West Rail or WALLY. There have been just enough events (grants secured through Mr. Dingell's intervention) to keep these projects "on track". If you look at progress reports on SEMCOG almost the only thing that has happened is that MDOT has refurbished these cars at great expense. To be clear, Amtrak would not operate either one of these. They would require a whole new operating authority with a separate funding stream, and neither one has qualified for operational funds from Federal sources. One of the reasons that AATA was pushed into becoming a regional authority was to support this dream. (AATA became the "authority" for WALLY on the same night that they first considered how to be a 196 authority.) Unfortunately, we are seeing transit money wasted instead of used to create more transit.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:46 p.m.

President Obama has always been a promoter of rail transportation and there will be money for rail, but this project will be in competition with all the rail systems in all the states that have them and most likely if your rail is not going to be used by high population numbers you are not going to get too much in subsidies.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:38 p.m.

The reply I gave to Greenradish should be posted in the next section.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 10:20 p.m.

Greenradish, the problem is the train won't go often enough, even if it goes early enough. A long time ago, commuter rail between Ann Arbor and Detroit failed because there were few people who could use the train when they might not be able to fit in with the time of a return trip. I may be wrong, but I think there were two trips in each direction. I don't remember if the second return trip was a commuter route train or if it was an Amtrak train going to Chicago that just happened to make the Detroit-Ann Arbor part of the trip at a time that was suitable for a return commuter trip for some.

Steve Bean

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

leaguebus, that money would need to be borrowed from someone in either case. The window of opportunity for big mass transit expansion (and many other things, road expansion included) has closed. The credit bubble is fully inflated and all the cheap, easily accessible fuels have been consumed. Economic growth--as widely promoted and imposed around the world--is over.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:17 p.m.

If we take the amount of money needed to expand 94 and 23 to 3 lanes each way and spend it on commuter rail service, we might have something.

Vivienne Armentrout

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:58 p.m.

I'm just saying that there is no money for it. Everyone expects that someone else will pay for these dream systems. Any donors want to step forward?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:55 p.m.

what a grump


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:27 p.m.

Vivienne, in your view are we just stuck with the current inefficient and heavily subsidized auto-based system? I see people constantly criticizing any attempt at public transit without any recognition as to how wasteful and unsustainable our auto-based system is.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:22 p.m.

No public transit system in the world operates without heavy subsidies, but that's neither here nor there. The main thing is if they can keep the fare low enough, Ann Arbor can enjoy a role as a panhandlers' destination city. They can "ride the rails" for a satisfying day working the downtown sidewalks, or they can settle in for the season from anywhere in the Midwest and beyond. No more unsightly deposit bottles littering the Diag.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:32 p.m.

It's nice to see someone putting a positive spin on this!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:20 p.m.

Snyder, please put the brakes on this project! What a waste of my money.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 5:35 a.m.

Dude, that minimum wage of yours ain't making too much of a difference.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:14 p.m.

Has anyone seen projected numbers of passengers expected to use the commuter trains? What will be the ticket rate from which any revenue shortfall relative to expenses can be calculated? If the commuter trains require subsidizing, how much will be needed and how will it be provided? When fully implemented, how many commuter trains will operate daily and at what times of the day? How will they be integrated with the Pontiac-to-Chicago passenger trains? If the WALLY does not get permission to use Ann Arbor Railroad tracks to enter Ann Arbor will an end-of-line station be constructed north of M14 and bus service be provided to bring passengers into Ann Arbor? Wouldn't such an arrangement be inconvenient and inefficient? The WALLY is predicted to carry only 1700 passengers each year and ticket revenue is expected to be short about $2.3 million required to pay for maintenance and operating expenses? Who will provide subsidies to cover the deficiencies?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:27 p.m.

Thanks for elaborating.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:58 p.m.

The 1,700 passengers is what they project if they improve the lines so that the trains can travel more than 30 mph in spaces. While the study indicated that a higher speed was necessary to generate that kind of ridership, those improvements won't be made. Yet the proponents continue to use the 1,700 figure. Why? I don't know. But it is a lie. The projections also make wild claims like those who commute using the Boondoggle Train will save money because they will be able to give up their cars. On what planet? The stations in Livingston County are in rural areas. Even if a system could be configured to get people to the stations from their homes (something extremely expensive like dial-a-ride), people will still need cars to get to grocery stores, to pretty much everything. The population density is very low. Finally, even if the planets align in never-never-land and this ridership of 1,700 materializes, the Boondoggle Train will still run at a 7-figure deficit per year, or at least a thousand dollars per rider. That's not a subsidy, that's robbery.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:09 p.m.

I'm sick of the kvetching that transportation isn't profitable. That's never been the point of public transit, including roads. It's a 'loss leader' that makes other economic activity possible in the area. Is that so hard to wrap one's head around? How much profit does the fire department turn?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Rusty, you won the internet today. Your post should be a constant refrain whenever public transit gripes come up on the boards.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:40 p.m.

Janet, most history books are full of mistruths. You may be interested in a book called Lies my Teacher Taught Me. It may help you realize propaganda starts at a young age. With that said - railroads originally were profitable but roads are not. It's why Michigan struggles to keep the road infrastructure up and why many states even struggle with toll roads.

Stephen Landes

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

Fine, Rusty. We'll have the public pick up the infrastructure cost, but all operating costs including the renovation and maintenance of the rolling stock have to be covered by riders. That would put trains on a more equal footing with personal transportation, air, and commercial trucks. Commuters will never shell out enough money to pay for their own transportation even on that basis.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:24 p.m.

In addition to what rusty said, construction of the railroads involved large public subsidies. As for the airlines, who built and staffs Detroit Metro Airport? I love it when people claim businesses are profitable on their own when the buildings in which they operate are publicly funded.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:57 p.m.

Also, re history: the story of the American railroad companies is perhaps (still!) the largest transfer of public wealth into private hands in modern history

rusty shackelford

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:55 p.m.

JN--I was referring to public transportation. Sorry if that wasn't clear. You're right that airlines are (barely, most of the time) profitable. One of the main reasons Amtrak is not is because it is politically required to run unprofitable routes and stop in every podunk town that no for-profit entity would. It's the same old story of rural America suckling off of cities while simultaneously trying to undermine everything that urban residents value. In other words, the 'government hands off my Medicare" syndrome.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:45 p.m.

Of course you are correct. No one complains about the publicly funded roads. Whine, whine.

Janet Neary

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:26 p.m.

Do you really believe that railroads and airlines were not created to be profitable? Your history books were certainly different from mine. And roads exist not because of buses but because people buy cars and are willing to pay road taxes to pay for them.

Jeff Mausolf

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 6:56 p.m.

Let me get this straight, they spent $310,000 on EACH car to refurbish them, but they don't know if or when the funding will ever materialize to actually operate the service? Talk about putting the cart before the (iron) horse!

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 6:49 p.m.

It's criminal that people are still trying to push WALLY, the Boondoggle Train. If it meets projections, which would require substantial upgrades to the line, the backers of the project have said that it's Livingston County's responsibility to put in the infrastructure improvements required to support the ridership. Which, of course, no sane county would do unless necessary. So if it's successful, it will fail because it will create extraordinary problems on the roads near the stations. But they've had to lie just to keep up interest in the project. Projected ridership requires the line upgrades, which isn't happening.

Richard Carter

Sat, Dec 1, 2012 : 10:15 p.m.

A little late to the party, but train cars emit no exhaust. The locomotives do all the pulling (or sometimes pushing).

Great Lakes Lady

Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:04 p.m.

"The rail cars were purchased from the Metra commuter rail system in northeast Illinois before being refurbished." Are they "green" non-polluting? Are they "fuel efficient"? Or did Chicago dump them due to outdated technology? How much did MDOT pay for purchases of rail cars?? I haven't researched this, but I'm guessing they were purchased from an Obama bundler from 2008 campaign with our tax money.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:42 p.m.

This is a tough call. Mac Sun brings up good points but commuter public transit is extremely important when gas prices hit high levels. With this past re-election, we can expect less domestic oil production and a whole bunch of money for mass transit. The problem is it is hard to predict the future. But if you build it and need it you very well may be glad you did.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

Cheaper, yes. But it would serve less than 1% of the population, even under ideal circumstances. Probably one tenth of that in its current incarnation.

Woman in Ypsilanti

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:39 p.m.

A train seems like it might be cheaper than a road expansion. Of course, the cheapest thing of all would be to do neither.

Macabre Sunset

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 9:15 p.m.

Many times. I live near Brighton. A study was done by the proponents of this silly project, and what you suspect simply isn't true. Nowhere in the country has there been a demonstrated need for commuter rail along a highway that has only two lanes. Yes, 23 needs a third lane. It was planned, before Granholm canceled it (likely because Livingston County leans Republican). It still needs that third lane quite badly, though I oppose it because the Ann Arbor contingent would likely demand it be a carpool lane, which studies show is far less effective and thus not worth the enormous impact on traffic while it's being constructed. We need a commuter train like a fish needs a bicycle lane.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:38 p.m.

Have you ever tried driving between Ann Arbor and Brighton at rush hour? I suspect there's going to be a lot of interest in this service once it starts running. Not only that, but it could delay the need to expand US-23 to six lanes by another decade or two.

Top Cat

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

"At this time, a sustainable funding source for both commuter rail services is not yet programmed." Now wouldn't you think that before they spend money on refurbishing cars, running tests, buildings sidings, etc. they would have a plan as to how to fund this on an ongoing basis. Nah!


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 11:38 p.m.

Stop making sense Top Cat! There is no room for that in public planning! Rusty, at $310k per car for refurbishing for a project not known to be a go is too risky in this economy. With the purchase and refurbishing, it sounds like it is a go no matter what is approved so far.

rusty shackelford

Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 7:11 p.m.

Not really that unreasonable. If you're starting a new venture, do you do 0 work until you gain capital? No. You work on all fronts to some degree and accelerate once you have funding. Having a demonstrable plan in place makes getting grants much easier.


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 6:45 p.m.

Daily commuter rail service is a bit of a pipe dream, at least as a viable business case. Even systems in major metropolitan areas typically require public subsidy, and it is tough to imagine a different scenario here. Limited special event service for Lions football, 4th of July/Freedom celebrations, the auto show, Ann Arbor Art Fairs, Michigan football, and so on could work well, but even there, only with very careful planning and coordination.


Sat, Nov 10, 2012 : 1:54 a.m.

You're right. Such a pipe dream. Why anybody can read the paper, type up a document, and edit photos behind the wheel on I-94. No problem. Who needs that 2-extra hours of productivity?


Fri, Nov 9, 2012 : 8:35 p.m.

How do you think the roads get paved? Or airports built and maintained? With public subsidies. Why should this be any different?