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Posted on Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 7:09 a.m.

Ann Arbor and Michigan could learn a lesson from Europe on high-speed trains

By Guest Column

Your article on Ann Arbor's projects for 2012 (5 issues that should top the city of Ann Arbor's priority list in 2012,”, Jan. 1, 2012) included the Fuller Road Station project and high-speed trains. And that's something Europe knows a thing or two about.

Trains are a way of life in Europe. They link the major cities together with safe, rapid service from city center to city center, making travel a breeze. That in turn promotes business as well as pleasure. But there's a difference in attitude toward mass transit overseas that would merit adopting here in certain parts of America, and in the southeast corner of Michigan in particular.

All of France is about as big as just Texas, and Ann Arbor is neither Paris nor London.


Sandy Schopbach

But our college town is similar in size and make-up to Freiburg, Germany, so let's take that as a point of comparison. Traffic is good on this north-south corridor, with local trains bringing students and shoppers into town from stops up and down the line several times a day. And there are also rapid trains that link Basel in Switzerland (just over the border to the south) with Frankfurt to the north -- major cities with two of Europe's major airports -- and still stop in Freiburg.

Now wouldn't it be nice if we had that kind of corridor, say from Chicago to Detroit and maybe on to Toronto, but stopping in Ann Arbor? Think of all the possibilities that would open!

Obviously such a scheme would require some finagling so that those trains wouldn't continue to be shunted to the side while freight trains pass, given that they own the actual rails. Four hours from Ann Arbor to Chicago is bearable, especially as you arrive rested, in the center of town, and don't have the cost and bother of parking. But when the trip becomes 6 hours or more because of freight trains having the right of way ... well, the whole project then self-destructs.

The combination of finances and planning from the City of Ann Arbor, the University of Michigan, U-M Hospital, Michigan Department of Transportation, Federal Rail Administration, Amtrak and AATA seems to be an excellent first step for this project. And yet your article states that "the first phase has been waiting for council approval since the Planning Commission approved it in September 2010," over a year ago.

There is, of course, the slight problem of Ann Arbor coming up with the required $10 million at a time when money's too tight to mention. But some things are worth pushing ahead on, and even if only a timeline were established, that would be a step forward.

Not to mention all the jobs the project would create, at least during the construction phase!

Another lesson we need to learn from Europe, should the project go forward, is the need for a link-up with local transit. What good does it do you to get to Fuller Road Station but have no way to get on from there to your destination? Shuttle buses to major points -- downtown and maybe Briarwood, as well as U-M Hospital, North Campus and Central Campus -- would make it a winning proposition. And as U-M has buses for students that already travel that route, maybe they could set a fee for non-students with Amtrak tickets?

A graduate of the University of Michigan and the Sorbonne, Sandy Schopbach divides her time between Paris and Ann Arbor. She arranges custom-tailored tours of France for small groups of Americans. She has worked as a photographer, author, and freelance journalist, and also managed the now-defunct Bird of Paradise jazz club for a number of years. Her website is


Jim Walker

Mon, Jan 16, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Except in parts of the very dense Northeastern corridor, trains have been costly boondoggles requiring huge subsidies of taxpayer dollars to function. It is not possible for the trains to charge what the service costs to provide. Amtrack would be totally bankrupt as a private business - except for a few Northeastern lines. James C. Walker, National Motorists Association, <a href="," rel='nofollow'>,</a> Ann Arbor, MI

Larry Krieg

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 3:20 p.m.

Population density is a &quot;red herring&quot;, because many people who don't understand (1) how dense the Midwest really is, and (2) that transportation modes like rail attract people over time to town centers, while highways create low-density suburban sprawl. Southern lower Michigan, and especially the southeast, is as dense as many areas of Europe and Asia that have excellent train service. In fact, Japan Rail Hokkaido operates in a climate and density environment almost identical to Michigan's Lower Peninsula, with over a hundred daily trains. (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> And they operate without any government subsidy, largely through property income associated with their stations. Stephen Lange Ranzini's comment offers a real key: using public-private partnership (PPP). Until we master the art of PPP, rapid transit of any kind will remain &quot;on the taxpayer's dime&quot;. But then our highways will always be on the taxpayer's dime anyway! Shame on those who say we have &quot;no money&quot;! We have plenty - we just choose to spend billions on things like weapons systems, ridiculous salaries for star athletes, and propping up foreign governments through the gas pump.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 6:17 p.m.

Public private partnerships has not done well in the US: Solyndra. I would like to know how you would take money from athletes and transfer it to transportation systems. That money is earned by a private business that generates its income because it is popular. Are you proposing some big tax on athletes?


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

It's all too obvious: The antis and the naysayers can always come up with &quot;good&quot; reasons not to do something. Most good things put into effect were created in the face of the doom-and-gloomers who were against it or said it couldn't be done (or shouldn't be done). It's like the old saying: By the time you can afford to have children, you're bringing up your grandchildren. The U.S. is well on its way to turning into a Second-World country. We can't build high-speed rail, we can't build mass transit, we can't build a Downriver bridge, we can't take care of our senior citizens or our veterans, we can't have national health care, . The country that was a Can-Do country is now a can't-do country. Having put our money and our young people's lives on the line for other countries and for oil, we have nothing left for ourselves but a bunch of hot air. Too bad the trains can't run on that; if they could, we'd have the best rail system in the world.


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 6:12 p.m.

I am not saying we shouldn't do it. My analysis is that conditions are different here than in place that chose to go in that direction. I have for some time now, promoted mass transit because of the volatile nature of the price of fuel and areas that invest in mass transit may very well benefit from it. My other concern is that I think it would be more beneficial to build commuter type short distance systems rather than long distance high speed systems. I think they would be more popular because people travel to work more often than they go on long trips. Why not make improvements in areas that are more common?

Tex Treeder

Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 6:03 p.m.

&quot;Second World&quot; means the former communist bloc countries. Perhaps you mean &quot;Third World&quot;?


Mon, Jan 9, 2012 : 12:38 p.m.

Train travel is great, I agree--if (as is typically the case in western Europe) the trains go to the places we need to be &amp; we can get where we need to get once we arrive at our destinations. Wouldn't we need to invest a stupendous amount of public money, though, to make either of those things a reality anywhere in the US besides the Boston-Washington DC corridor? I just don't think we have the resources for it.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Writing a story is a lot like building something that if not built correctly can be dangerous. For example if you are building something and have some real important looking parts left over, don't use the product. In the case at hand, the writer has left out some very important facts. First, never compare what is done in another country with the US unless you explain and cover all the differences. Like most have already pointed out, there are great differences in populations. Another missing fact is the answer to why they have large rail systems in Europe. It is also why they have large bicycling systems. She has left that out. The reason is that gasoline is about 2.3 times more expensive than gas in the U.S. So they bike for short distances and rail for longer ones. The tax is what forces people on the bikes and trains. Also trains are devilishly expensive and thus the high taxes. Not just to build them but to operate them too. California is finding that out. I find it very inappropriate to support something like this without including known problems other than that Ann Arbor needs to pony up just $10 million. It's going to be more than that: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> /243481/ <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Sure, it is California, but to do something like this you should ponder what is going on elsewhere.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

I'm all for high speed trains and have visited Europe as well as other countries many times. A2 and SE Michigan are not Europe and do not resemble any European city in density or values. As others have mentioned, European rail systems are subsidized by the gov't and Europeans value fast, safe and efficient train travel. Americans do not. Americans prefer cars, unfortunately, and because big oil and big business control the US government through huge payoffs, there will never be a serious rail passenger transportation system in the US. The airline and auto and oil lobbies would prevent it. During the 1950's, GM bought and tore up thousands of miles of rail road and street car tracks across the US because they saw trains as competition for their cars. Well, now we have the consequences of that: massive congestion, huge amounts of pollution, and about 35,000 deaths per year from motor vehicle accidents. An average of 95 people per day die in auto collisions. If there was a plane crash every day with 100 people, the FAA would shut down the airline industry. But I guess it's ok that about 100 people die per day in auto crashes. This country would have been far better off with a high speed rail system instead of the car-centered transportation system in the US.

Scott Reed

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:53 a.m.

From living here and also in NYC, my observation has been that people who prefer cars typically haven't ever experienced great public transit. Once they actually experience the convenience of the subway in a place like New York, their opinion changes considerably.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 8:42 p.m.

In addition to so many other reasons the high speed rail proposed won't work, I'll add a few more: 1. While including rail to Toronto may tempt some who've faced long waits at the Ambassador bridge, one issue is that there's that pesky (not) body of water between Windsor and Detroit. While the Windsor station is only a few blocks from the water, the cost and disruption to residences and businesses on both sides of the water can't be justified. Tunnels are expensive and engineering a long rail bridge is likely out of the question. Checking passports or other government issued ID meeting border standards must go on, regardless of type of transportation. 2. As Vivienne Armentrout has posted, there is no money for high speed rail. Also, justifying a Fuller Road train station by a high rise building with medical offices and residential apartments in unlikely. The major user of medical space in Ann Arbor is the U. of M., which now has the former Pfizer property (back) , more space in the nearby medical center, and using space closer to residential areas miles away from the main hospital. Nobody has taken a survey of private practitioners to find out how much they are able to spend on rent or business real estate. In addition, there's high end real estate around town and especially downtown that provides supply beyond demand. There seems to be more willingness to rent apartments than to buy them, including the condos that couldn't be sold and are now being leased at such places around town as Plymouth and Green as well as on Huron St. Any construction that would need the backing or guarantee of Ann Arbor taxpayers to get financing shouldn't be built unless you want to wreck Ann Arbor finances to the point that an emergency manager comes in, invalidates our elected officials and devastates safety and education in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor can't afford any more erosion in health, safety, and education. All &quot;pie in the sky&quot; shouldn't trump reality.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 7:25 p.m.

The empty Michcon/DTE site adjacent to the current Amtrak station is a much better location for an expanded train station. It offers a terrific opportunity for 1.) brownfield clean up of the river (which has already begun) 2.) expansion/upgrade space for Amtrak station and tracks 3.) additional park space and improvements to the border to border trail 4.) closer to downtown and adjacent commercial development/redevelopment opportunities which increases tax base No parking structure is required, UM employees can take shuttle buses, just like those using the park and ride lots.

Ron Granger

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

What is the benefit of my funding a train to Detroit? A lot of us couldn't care less about Detroit. And I especially don't want to make it easier for the crime of Detroit to get to Ann Arbor.

Vivienne Armentrout

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Aside from details about the Fuller Road Station's initial role as a parking structure (see my post <a href="," rel='nofollow'>,</a> there is another &quot;inconvenient truth&quot; regarding any plans for high-speed rail: there is no money for it. In the recent passage of a transportation bill now through Congress and signed by the President, HSPIR (high-speed rail) was &quot;zeroed out&quot;. No money. Nada. &quot;High Speed Passenger Rail grants: $0 funding. The House proposed $0, and the Senate proposed $100 million – a far cry from the President's request of $1 billion for 2012.&quot; <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

Jonathan Levine

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:58 p.m.

Density comparisons on the scale of the United States and the European Union make no sense for the purpose of metropolitan (or even intermetropolitan) transportation planning. The low density of the contiguous United States is largely determined by the sparsely populated intermountain West. Low population densities that vast stretch are of little relevance to how people live or travel in and between the largest U.S. metropolitan regions. A more apt comparison would be between U.S. states and European countries. This comparison yields an entirely different picture: New Jersey, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut are all denser than the United Kingdom or Germany; New York and Florida are both denser than Denmark; Pennsylvania is about as dense as France; Ohio, Illinois, and California are all denser than Spain; and Michigan, with its sparsely populated upper peninsula and northern half of the lower peninsula, is denser than Ireland. And by the way: it would be misleading enough to compare the density of the European Union to that of the contiguous 48 states. Craig Lounsbury's density statistic further illustrates the irrelevance of such comparisons by including Alaska!


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:40 p.m.

Lack of population density has been mentioned numerous times and with good reason but we need to add that fuel costs are cheap in the USA compared to countries where mass transit rail works. I suppose supporters of government sponsored rail would then say we need to raise fuel taxes ? Mass transit rail ( let alone high speed rail) will never suceed in any of our lifetimes, except perhaps in the northeastern USA. Vehicles are getting much more fuel efficient ( 40 mpg for many small cars) and the cost to replace the infrastructure is much too cost prohibitive. And then you have the mentality of folks in the USA who simply would rather drive then take mass transit. I have not been on a train in more than 20 years and don't plan on it moving forward. The last mass transit I took was the &quot;Park N Ride&quot; at metro airport. Why on earth would we use tax dollars to support this when somewhere around only 4% of the poputation uses rail ? Go Green Go White

Stephen Lange Ranzini

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

As I've noted before, the $10 million for Ann Arbor's share of the $121 million Fuller Road train station, and even more funds, could be raised by selling the air rights to build a tall building over the parking structure would yield a very large amount of money (think $10 million to $20 million) and create a large ratable asset to enhance city tax base (the ultimate project could easily be $100 million in value). The closest property near a high speed rail train station is by far the most valuable. The current plan contemplates using 100% of that extremely valuable real estate only for - parking cars (ouch)! The $100 million tall building above the high speed rail station could have medical offices and residential condos. You could then add location focused retail on the ground floor (for example, convenience store and coffee shop). With the planned skywalk directly into the hospital from the train station, it would be a quick walk to the main hospital and this would become the premium space for medical office space in the area because of it's convenience for the docs (wasting time commuting between the hospital and their medical office is very expensive to them since they can't bill sitting in a car). That means the building could charge premium rates per ft2 (which increases the value of the tall building). Also, it would drive ridership on the train for the many people who visit their doctor for follow-up visits to the doctor&quot;s office because of its convenience (just park and take an elevator up). To do this, the city must design the project to engineer the foundations now in a way to allow later construction of a tall building above the parking structure. You can't do this after the fact except in a very expensive way. Of course, they also would have to put the whole project up to a vote of the voters, as they should do anyway.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

The isolated location of this site within the parks and UM properties does not allow for any further retail opportunities and tax base expansion as you've described. Therefore, the existing Amtrak station and the huge adjacent empty Michcon/DTE site has been prematurely overlooked. The existing station location (both sides of the tracks) is surrounded by commercial development and redevelopment opportunities. UM workers arriving by train, could take a shuttle bus to the hospital just like all the park and ride lot users.

Kai Petainen

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 6:59 p.m.

If it is truly a transit station for tourists then I expect that it should have a gift shop and a coffee shop incorporated into the design. As I don't see that in the plans, then it is just a parking lot that is being marketed as something else


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 4:43 p.m.

One of the real problems is attitude and standard. In America, we don't use the trains. Why? Ever try to book a ticket somewhere? I've found it MORE expensive nearly every time I've tried to go somewhere by train, why? The trains going there anyways, my added weight does nothing to it's cost of operation, yet they want to charge me a few hundred dollars to go to the coast. They need to get it off the government dime for train service to become a mainstay in this country.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 4:27 p.m.

Was assigned and travelled in Europe over many years. Yes, an excellent way to move about. Other commenters have mentioned the population density comparison. I will add two additional factors which would impede a US copy: 1) Rail is government subsidized in Europe. We (for good or bad), reduced our subsidization rate. 2) You have an advanced rail network, and the capability for high speed rail largely because of WWII. After the war, rebuilding rail networks (and done so with planning towards greater speed and capacity) was possible via national rebuilding efforts, massive Marshall plan funding, and ownership for right-of-way issues greatly eased due to government seizure and/or no survivorship due to the war.

Rita Mitchell

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 4 p.m.

Ann Arbor has a train station, owned and operated by Amtrak, which provides approximately 150 free parking spaces to its riders. Focus on improving the function of the existing station and access to its parking is a better use of combined funds than to build a huge parking structure in a park. Phase I of the proposed Fuller Road Station is a parking structure, for which the city will contribute a minimum of $10 million, with the University paying the balance and the University will use a minimum of 78% of the parking spaces. The city plans are not fully released to the public, but hints are that the 200+ parking spaces will be rented out, in order to pay for the $10 million loan. Will the city give free parking to rail passengers? What exactly is the financial plan for the proposed station? It has yet to be provided to the public for review and support of the proposed project. It's a parking structure, a car-magnet that would be a negative with respect to the sustainability effort. If trains and commuting by train were the focus of the FRS proposal, the plan would not require 1,000 parking spaces, because people arriving would arrive by train and walk/take in-town transit to their destination. People departing would take in-town transit to their departing train. Let's improve in-town transit, keep and improve our current rail station, and take a real step forward to sustainable transportation. For more information:


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 7:19 p.m.

The empty Michcon/DTE site adjacent to the current station offers a terrific opportunity for 1.) brownfield clean up of the river (which has already begun) 2.) expansion/upgrade space for Amtrak station and tracks 3.) additional park space and improvements to the border to border trail 4.) adjacent commercial development becomes more valuable which increases taxable value


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:06 p.m.

Well Sandy why not just stay in Paris and enjoy your train rides. Show me one economy that thrives with a mass transit system. You will not find one. The automobile is one of the most visible symbols of freedom we have. The left is hellbent on taking that freedom away and relegating the masses to a dependency on the state. They cloak mass tyransit under the &quot;for the public good&quot; banner. Hold your wallets ladies and gentlemen. When it comes to subsidized transportation systems we should not say NO we should say HELL NO!


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 4:37 p.m.

Hey Tea; You make my point. the examples you sight are megatropolis cities with high density of population. We don't have that hear unless you subscribe to the &quot;if you build it they will come&quot; theory. In terms of the car my correct statement was &quot;one of the most visible&quot; symbols of freedom.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 4 p.m.

As for the &quot;most visible symbol of freedom we have&quot; I would personally rank a ballot box somewhat ahead of a Lincoln Navigator or Cadillac Escalade. That said, it is very easy to distinguish the thriving and vibrant economic and cultural centers of the world--London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, Seoul, New York--that possess extensive and efficient mass transit systems from urban centers that don't, like Detroit, Cleveland, and Toledo.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:43 p.m.

&quot;subside&quot;= subsidize what I would give for an edit button...;)

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:40 p.m.

InsideTheHall, I like my car too. I like the flexibility it gives me. I like it so much I have 3 of them. But It should be noted that our gas taxes no longer subside the road system entirely. So how much are you/we willing to pay in gas taxes to pay for the roads we use without outside help?


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

It cracks me up to see those commercials for &quot;The Ride&quot; that tout &quot;independence&quot; by making one dependent on a quasi governmental agency for mobility. Doublespeak, indeed.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

as others are pointing out, population density is important to a rail system. We only have that on the eastern sea board. The United States as a whole has a population density of about 88 people per square mile compared to about 300 in the European Union. Only 8 states have a population density higher than the EU . They are all on the eastern sea board and other than Florida are clustered where there is a rail system serving the population. So the notion that we have mystical lesson to learn from Europe is simply not true. Both Europe and the United states have a rail system where it makes sense based on population.

Tintin Milou

Sun, Jan 22, 2012 : 7:08 p.m.

Right, Denmark has a population density of roughly 6 people per square mile. But a pretty decent rail network.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 2:18 p.m.

Sandy, very nice article, thank you....But I think there are multiple obstacles in the way... First, European trains are government subsidized - not paid for by the small municipalities they serve. And they are reliant on government funding; likewise, they are subject to strikes and walkouts as per European protests, leaving riders without transportation multiple times per year. Try that in the US. Second, they have a destination. Chicago is great. Ann Arbor, passable if you have a car once you get here. Detroit, out of the question -- the train station is TWO MILES north of Downtown, and Detroit does not have any type of reliable transportation system to then shuttle people into the downtown area and back, nor on any type of schedule that would accommodate riders. And Europe, London, Paris, NYC etc are 24-hour a day cities -- including an infrastructure of restaurants, connecting busses and trains, bars, cafes, etc. that allow it to keep a train system operating -- not Detroit that shuts down at 10:30 pm. I lived in London for several years, and in Paris for three years. The number one desire of most of my friends (students at the time) was to be able to afford a car so that they wouldn't need to use public transportation. Now, as adults, they all travel by car.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 2:30 p.m.

Incidentally, there is a reason that in Europe, iPhone applications for the transportation schedules are so popular -- nobody needs them for the schedules, those have essentially been unchanged for decades....they use them to see what disturbances are on their route that day so that they can plan alternate routes to work/school/etc.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 2:08 p.m.

In the Netherlands 3 levels of trains exist. Stop trains (loose translation of the name) they run from platform to platform at a low speed (20-30 mph) and pick up people - stops are 1 to 2 Kilometers apart normally. Then there are the locals they stop about 5 to 10 kilometers apart, they share platforms with the stop trains so you can get out of one train, cross over and get on the next level of train. Then there are the City to City trains - these trains stop in major cities on major platforms (e.g. Utrecht, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, etc). These trains all have their own tracks side by side, with the stop trains on the outside. It is not unusual to see 6 or 8 sets of rails side by side in some areas. Think about the work it would take to repurpose land for that many rails side by side. Stop trains do not run in the rural areas, so you need to bike or take a car to a rural station. In the big cities there are additional subways and trams. And still the traffic is a mess most of the day in most cities. Oh, and these are not high speed trains though the city to city trains travel at 80 miles per hour or so. Most only stop in 3 or 4 places on a run. In the Netherlands, Ann Arbor would not qualify for a city train, we would have to take a local to the Airport or Lansing (Lansing being a Capital - not a larger city). Then there are the high speed trains - mostly running from 2 major stations out of the country - high speed trains have very few stops (Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam for instance or Paris, London). So Michigan would probably have 1 high speed stop on a real high speed network - Detroit or Lansing - depending on how the network was structured. Lansing is probably in a better location for a high speed station.

Blanch DuBois

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 2:01 p.m.

From the comments already posted it's obvious that money isn't the biggest hurdle for mass transit in S.E. Michigan.

Jim Osborn

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 1:57 p.m.

I have traveled on the route from Frankfurt to Freiburg. While efficient, it is not highspeed bullet train, but a lot closer to 80 MPH. There are also double sets of tracks, one for each direction. German freight trains can use such a system, as they are shorter and travel at the same speed as passenger trains. At stations, trains pull onto a siding to stop instead of blocking the main line. One notable improvement to safety that American systems overlook is crossing safety. German crossings have much more visible warning sings, especially for turning traffic. They have gates at most crossings, with a longer interval before the train arrives. We can and should use bright LED lights similar to what police cars use. Presently crossings use dim lights that need to be aimed like a flashlight and are not easily seen by all, especially on sunny days at busy intersections. We have much to learn from other systems, especially how to devise a network that is efficient, and quick without costing billions. We once had one, and we can again. They can compete with airlines for short and medium distances. They are doomed to fail if we toss billions at them and then charge prices to match.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 1:42 p.m.

If Michigan had the population density that Western Europe has, we could support high speed rail. But we don't, so we can't. Unless Sandy would like to get out *her* checkbook. Oh, that's right. She's in favor of spending other people's money to build the thing.

Tex Treeder

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 8:34 p.m.

I'm not sure why this is suddenly a liberal/conservative issue. It's possible to be a liberal and oppose the Fuller Station or a rail link with Detroit, just like it's possible to be a conservative and think just the opposite.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

Don't you love liberal logic? They want everything .... as long as they don't have to pay for it.


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 1:38 p.m.

These continual comparisons to mass transit are irrelevant albeit romantic. The U.S., Michigan, Southeast Michigan and Ann Arbor and not nearly as dense as the European markets where mass transit thrives. The exception is New York - which unsurprisingly has a successful mass transit platform.

Scott Reed

Tue, Jan 1, 2013 : 3:43 a.m.

If development in the US weren't so sprawled out, we could easily have dense-enough clusters to justify linking them by rail. But the political leadership doesn't have the courage to abandon these worthless, low-density sprawling developments and cut off their services. That's the only real solution - encouraging people to relocate in viably dense urban areas. Sooner or later, it will need to happen (case in point: see Detroit). The city will have to cut all services except in the dense core area.

5c0++ H4d13y

Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 1:30 p.m.

California is ready to abort its high speed rail project. Cost estimates too low, ridership estimates too high. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Jan 8, 2012 : 12:57 p.m.

Paris, London, Toronto, New York,Chicago....cut and paste? okay.... Look at medieval and European city centres: river fronts and closed off esplanades for cafes, stalls, real shops....Kerrrytown for a day? The riverfront is now is even more at risk with this transport center-Lowertown is a chain link fence, and the Broadway Bridge is cute but the hospital dwarfs any kind of &quot;other usage&quot; that the Riverfront could have been used for. It's a shame really. And people are too timid to think about closing off a core street or 2 downtown to make a pedestrian welcome area-eating out in the summer with all the cars is not enjoyable. Boondoggle after boondoggle about tearing down and looking at developers &quot;plans&quot;. They'd never get away with the tear downs south of the library in Freiburg would they? Can't have it both ways: model a transport system but ignore the other &quot;vitality&quot; features that make the place a destination to begin with.