You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 6:01 a.m.

Amtrak back in Depot Town? Ypsilanti officials to consider request

By Tom Perkins


Passengers wait for a train at Ann Arbor's Amtrak station. Ypsilanti officials are considering whether to ask the passenger rail carrier to add a stop in Depot Town.

File photo

The question was posed by an audience member at the Michigan By Rail's forum Dec. 9 at Washtenaw Community College: Why doesn't the Amtrak train stop in Ypsilanti?

After the meeting, Derrick James, Amtrak's senior director of government affairs for the Midwest, approached Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber and told him the first step was for the city simply to ask.

And so on Tuesday, the Ypsilanti City Council will consider a resolution asking Amtrak to explore adding a stop in Ypsilanti. The effort is separate from the planned Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail, which was originally scheduled to start running in October, but was delayed because of logistical and funding issues.

The council’s resolution to approach Amtrak Midwest’s government affairs office would start the process to get an Ypsilanti stop, said Marc Magliari, an Amtrak spokesman. Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation would have to seek approval from Norfolk-Southern Railroad, the freight train company that owns the rail lines, and make sure the new stop wouldn't interfere with freight traffic.

Amtrak also would conduct an economic analysis to determine whether an Ypsilanti stop would be beneficial to its service. One of the concerns Magliari noted is the proximity of train stops in Ann Arbor and Dearborn.

Depot Town "is very attractive, but you are also very close to other stations," he said.

Depot Town currently doesn't have a place where a train can stop. The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments and MDOT are funding a 300-foot platform with a kiosk on the west side of the tracks, and the Ypsilanti Freighthouse is inching closer to opening at least part of its historic structure, which includes a bathroom and a cafe.

City Planner Teresa Gillotti said existing plans slated the platform for completion in late spring or early summer, but she said that could change with a new administration in Lansing. Officials are still waiting on approval of the platform's environmental assessment, and after that the parties must figure out the process for issuing a request for proposals.

City Manager Ed Koryzno said a design for the Freighthouse's cafe still must be approved by the State Historic Preservation Office, which is funding the project. He said he hopes the cafe will open when the platform does, or just after. Amtrak trains’ last roundtrip stops in Ypsilanti came in 1982, although the eastbound train stopped in Depot Town until 1984. Magliari said that line, the Michigan Executive, was a remnant of the commuter train that connected Detroit with western suburbs and cities up until 1975. As Amtrak focused more on inter-city connection instead of commuter, or suburb-to-city lines, it phased out the Ypsilanti stop, Magliari said.

The Wolverine train runs three times daily each direction between Chicago and Pontiac. In 2010, the line saw its ridership increase by 8 percent from 444,000 to 476,000 passengers. Ticket revenues on the line also jumped by 12 percent and Amtrak recorded its best annual figures in fiscal year 2010 with 28 million riders.

Magliari said rail grants offered by the federal government since 2008 have resulted in an increased number of local governments seeking a stop in their community. Schreiber said most residents he has spoken with strongly support the idea of trains stopping in Ypsilanti again.

“I think there’s a lot of people who would like to see a train stop in Depot Town,” he said. “It would help Depot Town businesses and help Ypsilanti as a whole, so you’ve got to try for it.” Tom Perkins is a freelance writer for Reach the news desk at or 734-623-2530.



Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 6:24 p.m.

The stop belongs in Depot Town or not at all.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 9:51 p.m.

Regarding the train having to speed down, as an Ann Arborite who enjoys eating at the Sidetrack Restaurant, sometimes I've been concerned with the speed of the train and insufficient time between when gates go down and the fast train comes through. There are lots of grade crossings throughout Ypsilanti, including the Cross Street crossing. I've wondered if a handicapped person in a wheelchair would have enough time to complete crossing following the bell and gate warning. If a wheelchair got caught in the tracks or a bicyclist fell while rushing to get out of the way, would there be enough time to get up and move out of the way? There wouldn't be time for a bystander to give much aid. Even responding to grab someone by the arm would take more than a few seconds. Obviously, those who cross the tracks should know the scheduled train times and should listen for warning signals in the direction of expected trains to get as much crossing time as needed. Having a stop at Cross Street would slow the train down for other crossings nearby, though not necessarily for that stretch of track north of EMU. On a recent visit to Sidetrack, I noticed the train seemed to be going a little slower than previously. but that could be the leeway allotted the engineer and not Amtrak policy changes. Also, I'm not sure how much control of such matters the engineer has. I'm assuming train location automatically triggers gates and alerts down the line. Some praise Amtrak for not requiring passengers to pass through security checks. I'd feel more comfortable with metal detectors and with x-rays of bags.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 1:55 a.m. do the same rate to let's say......Vegas.

Chase Ingersoll

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 12:18 a.m.

Rates: For a one way from Ann Arbor to Chicago Union Station - all are approx 4.5 hours. $31 - Amtrak $34 - Greyhound (lots of network partners here - by far the most destinations) $25 - Megabus (their Midwest and East Coast options have really grown the last couple years.) *Amtrak is not listing free WiFi the buses are; *Discounted prices are available based upon age, student, vet status, advance purchase and specials that can be as much as 50% off the prices listed above. At $3.00 per gallon, if you are driving alone and have to park in Chicago, bus or train is big savings...and you can get some work done and have a nap.

Angela Barbash

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 12:17 a.m.

I'm all for a stop in Ypsi -- just to simply to get to Ann Arbor for events where you'll be in the city all day long but don't want to deal with the traffic and parking. I lived in St. Louis for a year and the commuter rail service was the best thing about the experience -- you could easily hop on the train and go to the ball games or the art museum downtown; everything was accessible. Lots of economic activity in St. Louis as a result.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 10:48 p.m.

I'm with Mikey2u. It's easier to drive to Chicago from Ypsi than to take the train from Ann Arbor for me too. A stop in Ypsi would certainly make me take the train when I go to Chicago.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.

If Amtrack stops in Depot Town I will ride it. I live in Ypsi and travel to Chicago frequently. If I have to drive to Ann Arbor and pay to park I would just as soon drive all the way to Chicago. I hope it happens.


Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 3:56 a.m.

and that is why almost no one rides Amtrak because it is far to incovenient.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

This would be a really bad Idea. The last Amtrak Station in Depot Town turned it into a Drug-Infested Hooker-Haven and Crime Generator, just as the New Bus Station is now. You could literally buy a building in Depot Town for $12K it was so bad. It took 20 years to recover. Don't de-gentrify Depot Town. But I do agree an Amtrak Station in Ypsi would be a good Idea. Put it over where the old Tyners Furniture Store used to be on Michigan Avenue. Plenty of open space and parking, and it's already on a Rail Spur.

E. Daniel Ayres

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

This is "bullshit." I lived in Depot Town back as the service was being phased out. Whatever problems existed there, the rail line had nothing to do with them. Train users got on and off. The drugs and drunks were endemic of the times and things like the low rent which attracted the God's Children Motorcycle Club to a Depot-Town store front. Even they only occasionally caused problems, most of which were triggered by attacks on them by "red-neck" patrons of the local bars, the "Central" and the "Alabi" now refurbished and respectable establishments.

Angela Barbash

Sun, Jan 30, 2011 : 12:21 a.m.

You have to think about the difference between now and the mid-80's: people who care. The people who own the businesses in Depot Town were not there in the late 70's/early 80's -- it was largely a combination of those business owners/community members coming in, the train not stopping, and festivals (Heritage) coming into the park that transformed the Depot Town area. Today we have far more economic activity in Depot Town, festivals every other weekend, lots of new people visiting. I don't think you'd see the degeneration that we once saw in the 80's.

Top Cat

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

I think Amtrak should also stop in Dexter for the sole purpose of making my life more convenient regardless of the additional cost and addition to our $1.5 billion deficit.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.

Tom Perkins, I don't know if you read the comments but I want to thank you for your many timely stories about the Ypsilanti area. It seems your reporting skills have really developed since you came on board here and wanted you to know I appreciate your efforts. Cash

Tom Perkins

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

Thanks, Cash!


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

I would certainly consider taking a train to my vacation destinations. But with Amtrak prices higher than an airline ticket? I'll take a jet every time.


Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

Amtrak prices are not higher than airline prices. Check them again.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 7 p.m.

I think this stop presents a huge opportunity. There are those that attend EMU who would be able to go visit family and fiends west or east off the campus. I would think a campus shuttle bus would be a great idea for this route. I could see those not wanting to deal with parking on campus commuting from Dearborn to EMU.

joe golder

Mon, Jan 31, 2011 : 7:01 p.m.

How about folks attending festivals in ypsi and ann arbor. Running a bus from depot town to ann arbor during art fair would be nice and folks could enjoy the great things Ypsi has to offer as well. The restaurants are very busy in Ann Arbor and grabbing a bite in Ypsi before getting on the train would make sense.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 6:51 p.m.

About time that Ypsilanti officials are consider asking passenger rail carrier to add a stop in Depot Town. Imagine, taking the train to Ypsilanti from Ann Arbor or Chicago? Brilliant and way, way overdue.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 5:34 p.m.

I always ride the train to Chicago when I go there. Though I do use the Ann Arbor station, which is closer, a Ypsi stop makes sense, especially given all the EMU students. Moving toward having some communter rail is also a good idea, since gas prices are not going down anytime soon. With all the trouble in the Mideast, who knows where they are headed? I'm not against roads, but they also are heavily subsidized by our taxes. Commercial rail takes some of the pressure off the roads, since trucks wear them out very quickly. If we have a strong rail system, it helps the roads and our finances, too. It's much cheaper to ship via rail per mile. While this article is not about commercial rail, we need to strengthen our rail system in every way possible. If we do not fund the railroads and make them as strong as possible, we will be very sorry in the future.

John B.

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.



Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

MDOT has Michigan Amtrak ridership statistics online dating back to 1994 - Fiscal Year 2010 saw the highest Michigan Amtrak ridership in that period (even including the Toronto service in the numbers for the '90s): <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Even above that record ridership, for 1st quarter FY 2011 (Oct-Dec 2010), Michigan Amtrak ridership was up 23% on the Detroit Chicago line; Port Huron-East Lansing-Chicago was up 30%, and Grand Rapids-Chicago up 8%. (<a href=",1607,7-151--250144--,00.html)" rel='nofollow'>,1607,7-151--250144--,00.html)</a> Revenue increases were even higher than ridership on all three routes. Michigan residents (like Americans across the country) are more and more looking to rail as effective and efficient transit. Meanwhile, the myth that fuel taxes pay for roads is an attractive one, but just that - a myth. As of 2009, non-&quot;user fee&quot; revenues were providing a nearly 50% subsidy of road construction and maintenance, up to $70B a year. This subsidy will only increase, as driving miles are dropping annually, and fuel taxes even faster. (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Transportation - both road and rail - are critical to our economy and quality of life: the subsidy of either is not per se a problem. Rather than obsessing over its existence, we need to make sure we're looking at what we're getting for it - and the statistics show that even a a minimal and chronically underfunded rail system can attract riders away from driving. With gas prices headed up, added rail service deserves a serious look.

joe golder

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 5:25 p.m.

The rail system is an under used resource. With the price of operating a vehicle going up it makes sense to invest in the rail system.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

There must be good jobs in Ann Arbor, Chicago, Detroit and Ypsilanti. I worked at a job in Ypsilanti making $ 17.00 hr. a decade ago and to take a cab from work to home was $ 10.00 each way. That is $140.00 a week. How much is Train fare? Would it make since to concentrate your resources locally? Such as job's? It might be good to be able to look for work outside of this area because there is no work here.

Linda Peck

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

The issue is probably one of time, it takes time to add a stop. Time to slow down, stop, board, speed up, and away. It would be great if it would happen, though.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 3:29 p.m.

That's very true, Linda. I think the length of time it takes per stop depends on the number of people entering and exiting at that stop, except for Battle Creek where there's a crew change. However, if we could pick up Canton area folks rather than having them go to Dearborn, this could be great for Depot Town area too.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:58 p.m.

I recently took the train to Chicago and back. I loved it. No long lines like in the airports, no cramped conditions inside the little tube being flung into the sky, you can get up and walk around, and it takes you into the city's center. It's much more efficient and genteel than air travel. The only thing i could have hoped for was a stop closer to where I live, in Ypsi! Where are all those folks who want local businesses, especially those in Depot Town, to prosper a bit more? The station in Ann Arbor has little to offer commuters who want to go somewhere on foot. Depot Town has all that.

Bob T

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 5:20 p.m.

Exactly! I recently took a trip by train from Detroit to Chicago and was thinking the same things. Riding the train is much more relaxing than flying. The cost cant be beat. As a single rider, I spent $62 on a round trip ticket. I could not drive there for that price.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Excellent point, Ignatz..... and the idea of a commuter fare for a ride between A2 and Ypsi is a great idea as well. This could easily move folks between A2 and Depot Town for shopping and evening fun (no DUIs). They do something similar on some of the Amtrak routes out of Chicago. Even though Chicago has it's own train system, Amtrak runs some convenient fares through the suburbs and carries a lot of commuters between suburbs. Hope to see you on the Amtrak soon! But let's not advertise too much. It will get more crowded. :-)


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

Lets work together to support and bring practicality &amp; reliability to our trains. They are one of the greenest most efficient ways to transport just about anything, including people! Minimize your carbon footprint and ride the rails!


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:26 p.m.

Amtrak loses $32.00 for every passenger booked and loses over a HALF BILLION dollars a year for the past 10 years. Amtrak needs to be disbanded completely, there are privately operate bus lines that can get you to Chicago faster and at a competitive rate.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

I will support all of what Cash has said and ask how much &quot;profit&quot; has the FAA provided? How about the Washtenaw County Road commission? Interstate highways? How much more is invested in roads than in mass transit? Roads make ZERO profit. It is a losing proposition. I suppose we can start by forcing every road to be self-suffficient tomorrow. Only roads with tolls that can turn a profit will be plowed, or repaired going forward. Your argument is intellectually dishonest, as are most right wing talking points. I am wondering when the military will start turning its profit.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:39 p.m.

Providing efficient transportation to the masses shouldn't be a money making operation but, like the USPS, it should be designed to pay for itself. Amtrack is hamstrung because it doesn't own ANY of the rails it needs to operate on, has to get out of the way of the owners own freight and is limited in speed and services because of this. If I could get to chicago in 4 hours by rail for another $32 over what they are charging it would be a great deal indeed.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:31 p.m.

How much does WCRC cost? How much does MDOT cost? How much gas tax is levied in Michigan? And with all of that what is the condition of our roads? The taxpayer pays for ALL transportation. Auto traffic costs us millions in Michigan. So are we going to shut it down? No we keep paying for it. As we will for all methods of transport.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:17 p.m.

@ Cash: I think it should also stop at the white House. Think of all the money we could save. It was good enough for Eisenhower. This article is about saving money right? Or is it about personal wishes?


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

The article is about a stop on an existing transportation route. A train does go to DC as does a subway system as do buses, as do cars. Your point?


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 1:54 p.m.

We don't need more boondogles! &quot;rail grants offered by the federal government since 2008 have resulted in an increased number of local governments seeking a stop in their community.&quot; This is a money loser propped up by the FEDS who are broke! AMTRAK is not used for basic transportation but rather leisure travel. Good gosh, even the Shrine Circus has to turn a profit to survive!


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:04 p.m.

jondhall, All in favor of half a million more cars on the already crumbling roads of Washtenaw County, raise their hands. Whatever pot it comes out of, we the people pay for all transportation in America, one way or the other. Amtrak isn't used for basic transportation? That's so untrue as to be laughable. Does WCRC make a profit? MDOT make a profit? Get the point?


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 1:15 p.m.

jon, This article is about adding an Ypsi stop for the Amtrak Wolverine train that already exists. You won't be voting on that. But if you do, let me know! This article just is about having that train stop in Ypsilanti as well as Ann Arbor. I'm not sure why you would think that is a burden on you as you live in Ann Arbor. The train would still stop in Ann Arbor as it always has done.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 12:51 p.m.

Sounds like a great idea City Council has the land all along the Michigan Avenue corridor where they bought out successful businesses at over inflated prices. We just have to move the rail road to got by the &quot;scenic Huron river&quot; that land is so valuable. @ Cash: Give me a break &quot; Cash&quot; move to Ann Arbor we are not supporting your agenda or your commute. Better yet move to Chicago, they have a great State Tax increase coming. Maybe get one of those new &quot;Hybrid&quot; and drive to Chicago, but where would you park once you got there? If case you can not figure it out &quot;I'm voting No&quot;. By the way the railroad has been railroading the people for many years. Not only is it non profit is is Government Controlled.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

I will also point out that even with a 2% tax increase the people of Illinois STILL have a lower income tax rate than Indiana and Wisconsin. So people can make the decision to move to high tax Indiana and live in say Gary, or a lower tax city like say Chicago. I think we all know the answer most people and businesses will choose. If lower taxes were so important to people, why is Caligornia (considered a high tax state) and New York (also high tax) so highly populated? Why are so many businesses like Chase, Google, Microsoft, and Boeing located in these states with higher taxes? Maybe its because the lower tax equaling increased business is the big lie perpetuated by those who want something for nothing.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

I wonder if that means you vote no on any road construction too? They are NON PROFIT and government controlled


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 12:33 p.m.

Craig, Some Ypsi folks take cabs like me but the vast majority have someone pick them up at that time. I don't have the luxury of that. The regular lot is full of people waiting to pick up Amtrak riders at that time. (Not the park and ride lot, the metered lot right at the station) So that's the way most people get home from the 11:20 pm stop. I get an excellent discount for being a regular rider AND a senior citizen. So, my ride to Chicago is MUCH cheaper. The cab ride from my house to the station is more than my train ticket. Where are all of the cabs? I was told by dispatch that they are busy at bars. That's a good thing for auto drivers for sure. I would hope that EMU jumps &quot;on board&quot; to support their students and staff as well. In fact, I will be pressing that issue with them this week. If the ridership isn't worthy of the time for a stop, they can discontinue it. But with the cost of gas and maintenance of a car today, it might be a benefit for many Ypsilantians and Amtrak too. What does it hurt to try?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

I grew up in Ypsilanti, lived there for most of 22 years from 1961 to 1982. I have a brother and two daughters who graduated from EMU so I have Ypsi roots and a fondness for the City. But to me it doesn't seem particle to have two stops so close together. I can appreciate Cash's concerns about the inconvenience of the &quot;commuter lot&quot;. But if its deserted where are all those people from Ypsilanti parking who get off the train at 11:30? If its hard to get a cab why aren't cabs lined up at the train station at 11:30 at night? Is there not a demand? I am also a bit taken aback the cab costs more than the train. A brief check suggests a train ticket is $32 one way. Does a cab ride from Ann Arbor to Ypsi cost $32? I don't know, it just seems like a lot.


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 12:10 p.m.

There's an idea! Instead of building a $100 million parking garage on parkland (Fuller &quot;Garage&quot;) with the hopes that someday Amtrak will eventually abandon the Ann Arbor station (whatever happened to recycle and reuse?), why not consider a Ypsi stop to help relieve some of the parking issues in Ann Arbor? As long as the riders between Ann Arbor and Pontiac can handle the extra stop (time added), the parking issue could be spread over two communities as well as any extra retail business generated from the riders. With three stops a day , could they also consider a &quot;commuter fare&quot; for the short hop between Ann Arbor and Ypsi?


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 2:43 p.m.

You speek the truth now make sure your voice gets heard by the ones who make the policies. Right on!


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 11:27 a.m.

Yes PLEASE!! I must take the 6PM train out of Chicago (7EST) coming home and it arrives in Ann Arbor at 11:20PM. To take my vehicle to Ann Arbor and park it there is not feasible because the Ann Arbor &quot;park and ride&quot; lot is in a dark deserted lot across the tracks near the river....and you walk in the dark a long way to get there. So I must take a cab to an from Ann Arbor and that's not cheap! And I have had trouble even getting a cab for the late night pick up. It cost more to take the cab back and forth from Ypsi/Ann Arbor than it does to take the train back and forth Ypsi/Chicago! Please make a stop in Ypsi!


Sat, Jan 29, 2011 : 11:26 a.m.

The photo for this article says it all. Do you see faces like those in lines at the airport? Long live the rail.