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Posted on Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 5:59 a.m.

Train ridership on the rise: Ann Arbor remains busiest Amtrak stop between Detroit and Chicago

By Ryan J. Stanton


University of Michigan graduate student Jon Bolenbaugh, far right, catches a train to Chicago on Friday afternoon on his way to see his girlfriend for the weekend. He said he uses the Amtrak station in Ann Arbor about twice a month and prefers train travel over driving or flying.

Angela J. Cesere |

University of Michigan graduate student Jon Bolenbaugh says he uses the Amtrak station in Ann Arbor about twice a month and prefers train travel over driving or flying.

"I've taken a lot of train rides actually," he said, waiting to catch the train to Chicago on Friday afternoon on his way to see his girlfriend for the weekend.

"It's cheaper in terms of the gas right now and also flying is a pain," Bolenbaugh said. "I used to fly two or three years ago until they changed the policies and now it's like you have to get basically groped to fly. It takes more time to actually get to the airport, fly and get out of the airport than it does just to drive there or take the train."

Ann Arbor officials are welcoming news that train ridership is up throughout Michigan and say they remain hopeful high-speed rail improvements are on the way.

"Train ridership in Michigan has been going up steadily for quite a while now and this was quite a jump in the recent figures," said Mayor John Hieftje, referring to the new Amtrak passenger counts. "I agree with those who are attributing it to the rise in gas prices."

Amtrak saw significant growth on all three of its passenger service routes in Michigan in the first six months of the 2010-11 fiscal year, according to the Michigan Department of Transportation.

The Wolverine line that runs from Pontiac through Detroit to Chicago — with its busiest stop along the way in Ann Arbor — saw a 16.3 percent increase with 243,185 passengers from October through March. Ticket revenues went up 21 percent to $9 million.


Mayor John Hieftje

Ryan J. Stanton |

The Pere Marquette line that runs from Grand Rapids to Chicago saw ridership increase by 6.7 percent with 48,787 passengers. Ticket revenues went up 11.7 percent to $1.5 million.

The Blue Water line that runs from Port Huron to Chicago saw ridership jump 26.2 percent with 85,823 passengers, one of the biggest increases in the nation. Ticket revenues went up 23.9 percent to $2.6 million.

Amtrak operates its Blue Water and Pere Marquette services under a contract with MDOT, but it does not receive any direct state support for the Wolverine.

Michigan is one of 15 states that provide state-supported service.

MDOT officials said it seems clear more passengers are choosing train travel for convenience and value, especially as gas prices soar. They point out the growing number of train travelers means fewer cars on congested state highways.

"I think more and more people are thinking about trains who may have not thought it was possible before, seeing it as an alternative," Hieftje said. "It's certainly a good alternative to going to the airport, waiting around, and going through security and everything. All of these things seem to be working together to put more people in seats on trains."

After dropping off around 2001, ridership on all three Amtrak routes in Michigan has grown significantly over the last decade and continues to grow. The Detroit-to-Chicago corridor saw ridership plummet from 418,491 to 295,268 from 1997 to 2001, but passenger counts had ticked back up to 479,782 by last year — about a 62 percent increase over nine years.

Along the Detroit-to-Chicago corridor, a total of 69,084 people boarded Amtrak trains in Ann Arbor last year; 44,392 boarded in Kalamazoo, 40,510 in Dearborn, 33,125 in Detroit, 19,332 in Battle Creek, 16,768 in Royal Oak, 13,894 in Jackson and 10,906 in Birmingham.

"It is true that Ann Arbor continues to be the busiest stop," Hieftje said. "People here really get it and we're just very hopeful that the high-speed rail project will go forward, and of course that enables us to keep working with our neighbors on the commuter rail project as well."

Federal officials announced last fall that Michigan would receive $150 million for high-speed rail improvements along the Dearborn-to-Kalamazoo portion of the tracks between Detroit and Chicago, but the state Legislature still hasn't taken action to secure the funds. Gov. Rick Snyder also hasn't made up his mind about putting up matching state dollars.

But Hieftje remains hopeful something will happen and that Ann Arbor, which has a new train station planned near the University of Michigan Hospital along Fuller Road, will reap the benefits. The same improvements needed to make high-speed rail happen will help move forward the planned Ann Arbor-to-Detroit commuter rail service.

"As we understand it, Michigan's high-speed rail funds are still in place, and so the state Legislature still is working on a match for that," Hieftje said. "I know myself and the mayors of Dearborn and Ypsilanti, we're all very hopeful that that project is going to move along and it'll be good for all of our cities."

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 e-mail newsletters.



Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 9:18 p.m.

Hmmmh MITRAIN ..Event trains to run in fall 2010 .....SEMCOG MDOT Amtrak flyer ..Ride to the Thankgiveing day parde????? michigan legislature voted on HB6484 (67 to31) to passe the $ 100 million in bonds.rep&gt; john Dingell iussed $ 200 million from washington.SO WHERE OR WHAT is the hold-up? <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Also THE GOLDEN SPIKE ...under constrution for over 30 years ,so where is that money .in what bank. and WHy or where is the hold-up? We need the train in Ypsilanti and the Depot open ..stop...

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.

MOTH wrote: &quot;A good first step for improvement would be reliability before speed. Many business travelers I know will not take the train as it is now, not because of the travel time but because it's very likely they will miss their appointment in Chicago, sometimes by as much as 12 hours.&quot; The reason AMTRAK is late, in most cases, is that is does not own the rails it runs on. Between K-zoo and Detroit it is single tracked and Norfolk Southern slow moving freights have priority. Between the Indiana line and Chicago it is the same. AMTRAK owns and maintains the line between K-zoo and the Indiana line. It is double tracked and maintained for high speed. The old low tech trains approach speeds of 110mph on that stretch of road. Good Night and Good Luck

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 5:41 p.m.

thanks MOTH for clearing up my 12 hour concern and the further input. In my 59 years I have only twice taken a (round trip) train. Once Ann Arbor to Chicago and back, once Windsor to Toronto and back. My recollection of timeliness is hazy...both due to time lapsed and the consumption of adult beverages during the rides.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

I was on train that had to coast from Jackson to A2 because the engine was on fire. When we arrived in A2, they had to get a new locomotive from Detroit to pick up the train and drag it to Detroit. A friend who needed to get to Dearborn spent the night in A2 because she was so exhausted by the stress.

Moscow On The Huron

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 3:23 p.m.

You've projected arguments between the lines once again. I never made any statement as to whose fault it was, so you'll need to go debate that issue with somebody else. I'm aware that the experiences I related were caused by all of the above - Amtrak, a host railroad (going back as far as Conrail), weather as well as good old fashioned dumb luck. My point, with which CL agreed, is simply that it's unreliable in its current state. I mentioned Amtrak in the bussing instance, because that's who actually made the decisions and hired the busses, not that they caused it the problem. I do think their decision to return to Chicago made it worse. However, from the PDF to which I linked, it appears that delays are greater on track owned and shared with other railroads, which makes intuitive sense. Whether that can happen here, and how it could be afforded, is the big question. Also, I question whether it's actually needed along this corridor when express bus services can do it more efficiently and less expensively. I have heard many good things about Mega Bus by those who have use it - clean, on-time, comfortable, and low-cost. These services can respond to flotations in demand better than rail as well. My estimation is that an idle bus produces much less overhead than idle rail equipment. If Amtrak disappeared tomorrow, I'm sure Mega Bus would respond very quickly with additional capacity.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

So, near as I can tell, exactly one of your example was under AMTRAK's control--the blown engine. Even the crew rest issue was an issue due to sitting and waiting for priority on tracks it does not own. So, thanks, MOTH, for making my point for me EXACTLY. Good Night and Good Luck

Moscow On The Huron

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 1:45 p.m.

Or MOTH might know what he's talking about, based on 30 years of personal experience with the Wolverine route. When a train gets delayed and then the crew reaches their maximum number of work hours, and there isn't another eligible Amtrak or Norfolk Southern crew (depending on the location) within hundreds of miles, the train sits there until a crew can be found and transported to the location of the train. Or, when a locomotive blows a generator the train sits there until another engine can be found and brought to the location**. Or, when late in the evening a draw bridge won't give a &quot;locked&quot; indication after closing and a bridge repair crew has to be brought in from who knows where, the train just sits there for hours while they diagnose and fix the problem with the bridge. Or, when bad weather blows trees all over the tracks in SW Michigan and Amtrak decided to take everybody all the way back to Union Station in Chicago and puts them on a bus to go all the way back again to somewhere in Michigan to meet another train brought from the east, instead of just bussing them from stopped location to their destination. Still, I would rather be sitting on the train with an open snack bar, a beer, and an operating restroom (and possibly the ability to de-train and walk around if at a station) rather than sitting in an aircraft on an airport taxiway for the same amount of time. Note I said, &quot;up to 12 hours,&quot; which is accurate based on personal experience and was, of course, not meant to represent a typical or average delay. However, seeing as the Wolverine's on-time record for just the month of Feb 2011 is an incredible 11%, could anything really be out of the realm of possibilities? ** Although it appears as though the trains on the Wolverine route have two locomotives, they don't, They have one locomotive on one end and one has-been locomotive on the other end which has been gutted of it's engine and converted into an engineer's cab and baggage car com


Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 1:16 p.m.

my mother took a 12 hour trip last summer. I know becuase she kept calling out of boredom . . .

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 12:37 p.m.

I doubt the 12 hour part of the story. I do know from personal experience that a 2-4 hour delay is, unfortunately, not all that rare. MOTH might be thinking of reports about 12-hour &quot;delays&quot; that frequently happen for trains that run from Chicago to the Pacific NW. They frequently run many hours behind schedule for the same reason. No one wants their train to be late yet, despite these problems, ridership is up. It tells me that if money were invested in this line so that it could be double tracked between Detroit and K-zoo, and so that it could be maintained as a high-speed line, ridership likely would increase even more. Good Night and Good Luck

Craig Lounsbury

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 11:57 a.m.

It is interesting to note the reasons. But in the end knowing the reasons doesn't change the problem from the perspective of the business traveler. I do find the 12 hour delays hard to believe. That would be problematic for the casual traveler as well. Who wants 12 hours of their weekend in Chicago taken away?


Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 1:40 a.m.

Megabus is about the same time and MUCH cheaper (like 1/3 cost). Plus has wifi.

Wolf's Bane

Tue, Apr 26, 2011 : 5:23 p.m.

Your SUV uses gasoline/diesel, is totally dependent on the I-94 corridor and traffic pattern, and takes forever.

Boo Radley

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 10:38 p.m.

Amtrak uses diesel, is totally dependent on freight train traffic, and take forever.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 5:05 p.m.

Megabus uses gasoline/diesel, is totally dependent on the I-94 corridor and traffic pattern, and take forever.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 11:53 p.m.

Unfortunately, as more people shift to taking trains the government &quot;groping&quot; will be expanded to trains, or buses, as well. Big Brother wants to &quot;protect&quot; you.

Wolf's Bane

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

I don't understand the point you are trying to make?

Wolf's Bane

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

Again, imagine if the Detroit-to-Chicago corridor was actually properly maintained, had a dedicated commuter rail line and reliable budget? The trip now on average from A2 to Chicago, takes about 5-6 hours provided if nothing goes horribly wrong, e.g. no running water, blizzard, traffic backups, burning locomotive (all of which I have experienced over the years). It would be really something if we could take a train from A2 to Chicago in 4 hours!


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 6:23 p.m.

In response to Craig Lounsbury's post, I guess he doesn't get it. Yes, both Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo have large universities. However, those universities were there when ridership was down. What Mr. Lounsbury and many Midwesterns can't seem to comprehend is that more and more people are opting out of driving every where, and although rising gas prices and less convenient flying options may be attributed to some of the increase it cannot be the reason for all of the increase in train ridership in Michigan. Furthermore, the well-educated, young, urbane individuals are choosing more and more to live in the central cities, and want other modes of transportation other than private vehicles. If you want to analyze one reason why Michigan was the only state to see a net population loss in the latest census, you can start by looking at how attractive Michigan's cities are to recent college graduates. Then I suggest residents of the Great Lake State spend some time in metropolitan areas which attract many of your college graduates, such as: New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Minneapolis, San Francisco and Seattle. These cities have extensive public transit systems, and continue to thrive even when the rest of country is faring poorly. I'm not saying that good public transit alone is the reason for these cities bustling economies, but it is certainly part of the equation.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.

&quot;In response to Craig Lounsbury's post, I guess he doesn't get it.&quot; nigreg, I actually made two posts, not one. Neither of which was anti-train.

Mike D.

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

Imagine how many people would ride reliable, high-speed trains. Its takes 5 hours to take the train to Chicago, and that's on the rare occasion that it's on time. It's taken me as long as 15. And then you have to get from the train station downtown to your destination in the city. So I drive. It's 3.5 hours on a good day, 4 on average, and 4.5 on a bad day. And who said the train is cheaper? Typically, I go with 3 people in the car. My car gets 26 mpg on the highway, so the 500-mile round-trip uses 19 gallons of gas. It's only about $85 in gas. If I had a more fuel-efficient car that used regular gas, it would be closer to $50. But it's a moot point because the train ride for the three of us would be $350 to $450 (unless we booked far in advance, which isn't possible for me). Even with parking at my preferred lot in downtown Chicago at $32 a day, it's far cheaper to drive in for a weekend. Rail won't change behavior until it's meaningfully quicker and/or cheaper than driving. Here's hoping it gets there.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 3:56 p.m.

The International Monetary Fund just released a new World Economic Outlook. It's here: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>. You'll want to look at chapter 3, where they look at the potential for oil prices to derail the global economy. The interesting part is that this time they ran a moderate peak oil scenario (scenario 2) through their model. Unfortunately, it broke their model. &quot;The most striking aspect of this scenario is, however, that supply reductions of this magnitude would require an increase of more than 200 percent in the oil price on impact and an 800 percent increase over 20 years. Relative price changes of this magnitude would be unprecedented and would likely have nonlinear effects on activity that the model does not adequately capture. &quot; So, a quick spike to $300 per barrel, and an increase over 20 years to $900 per barrel. Or in gas price terms, $12 a gallon and $36 a gallon in 20 years. And not only did it break their model, but they were assuming that exporting countries *would* end their internal subsidies, even though that tends to get governments overthrown. So far, that's proven fairly unrealistic. And this is the IMF, not ASPO. We really need to expand transit in this country.

Moscow On The Huron

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

A good first step for improvement would be reliability before speed. Many business travelers I know will not take the train as it is now, not because of the travel time but because it's very likely they will miss their appointment in Chicago, sometimes by as much as 12 hours. This route (the Wolverine) has one of the worst on-time records in the whole system: 70% for 2010 and a measly 35% so far for 2011. I once went down to catch the west-bound morning train and found the previous evening's east-bound train sitting there at the station. Source: <a href=";filename=Amtrak_1102monthly.pdf" rel='nofollow'>;blobtable=MungoBlobs&amp;blobkey=id&amp;blobwhere=1249225391140&amp;blobheader=application%2Fpdf&amp;blobheadername1=Content-disposition&amp;blobheadervalue1=attachment;filename=Amtrak_1102monthly.pdf</a>


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

&quot;now it's like you have to get basically groped to fly.&quot; Isn't it a sad state of our nation that this is true? It sounds like there is no security on the trains, where's Big SIS?


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 4:41 p.m.

That's right. We need security on trains so the terrorists can't hijack the Amtrak to Chicago and drive it into the World Trade Center.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 2:34 p.m.

Do real numbers Ryan. Ridership is up 62% from its low in 2001. The real rise increase in ridership in the past 14 years is a little less then 13% increase. That is like comparing your current housing price to the lowest point in the past ten years and not what the price was when you paid for it, to express how much money you have made. Additonally, the numbers from October through March may be inflated because that is when the full student population is here. I think the number may be misleading because of that. It should I really hope the train station is not a done deal. It gives away parkland and seems like its real benefit is for the U of M. Looking at the plan it appeared that the city would only get about 200 parking spots. The proposed station is merely more parking for the U of M hospital. Here is a good article on why the city should not do this. A professor from the U hypothesizes that a structure in this area would be torn down int he next 20 years. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> This article shows at least 146 parking spaces near the old train station. (<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> ) I do not believe that $10 million for 60 more parking spaces is a good idea. This station should not be built without looking into alternatives


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 2 p.m.

I own a car. I take the train regularly to Chicago and Milwaukee. It costs much less than gas or flying. Your time is your own. The ride is relaxing. You're not tired when you get there. You can read, nap, or surf the internet (if you have access--I have a MiFi). It takes no longer than driving. AND in both cities, and most places where a train station is located, you are right downtown when you get there. In most big cities it can be a hassle and expensive to get in from the airport. Plus, by the time you drive to the airport, pay for parking (probably for several days) wait around, go through security, fly wait for your luggage at the destination, you may not have saved much time. The regular coach seats are way more comfortable than coach class on a plane anywhere with plenty of leg room. Even coast-to-coast, if you have the time (it takes two days) you have a nice scenic trip. If you book a roomette, it includes all meals and doesn't cost more than booking motel room(s) along the way if you drove. The basic cost is very competitive with flying.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 6:26 p.m.

Absolutely. I've done it several times, and I agree with you on all points.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

&quot;Train ridership on the rise: Ann Arbor remains busiest Amtrak stop between Detroit and Chicago.&quot; And for every additional passenger Amtrak loses even more money since they lose money on every ticket they sell. Good Day


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 7:04 p.m.

Right on, Snoopdog! You're absolutely correct when it comes do density. The Detroit Urban Area is home to nearly 4 million residents, the ninth most populous urban area in the U.S. I'm always amazed by how little many residents now about their state. Just for the record, even after losing 55,000 residents in the last census (the only state with a net loss), Michigan is still the eighth (8th) most populous state with over 9.8 million residents. I think because many people in Michigan live in small towns, they tend to think there aren't many people in the state, that may also be due to the fact that geographically, Michigan is a big state (the second largest east of the Mississippi River). I predict that in the next census, Michigan will be easily over 10 million. The people that understand that economic development is tied to education and urban development are doing many of the right things in places like, Ann Arbor, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Grand Rapids, and yes, even Detroit.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

@Snoopdog, your statement is factually incorrect. Running a train has a lot of fixed costs. The marginal cost of adding one more person to a rail car is next to zero. Do you think the train uses more fuel because another 180-pound person is on it? LOL.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

A flawed assumption. There is significant &quot;fixed overhead&quot; that factors in to their loses. So the truth is just the opposite. The more tickets they sell the more passengers are chipping in on the fixed costs.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:30 p.m.

Ryan, any update on the PROPOSED Fuller Station? Your quote, &quot;..Ann Arbor, which has a new train station planned near the University of Michigan Hospital.&quot;, makes it sound like it's a done deal. I do not recall city council having a final vote on this. Your last article/link is from January 11th which said the vote was scheduled for March. What happened? Any updates on when the vote is planned? Hopefully city council is having second thoughts about spending $10 million (it does not have) and giving away parkland for free while at the same time cutting city services and laying off fire fighters and police officers.

Ryan J. Stanton

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 2:18 p.m.

Talks on that will pick up again after the city budget passes May 16.

Phil K.

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:21 p.m.

Some useful numbers from Amtrak:. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> (they used to have sheets going back through 2006, but it looks like those have been pulled. You can just substitute 09 or 08 to get older sheets.) The Wolverine line is a supposedly a break even line for Amtrak. Michigan's other two lines, the Blue Water (Port Huron to Chicago) and Pere Marquette (Grand Rapids to Chicago) both receive both state and federal funding to assist operations. Wolverine does not receive state funding, thanks to its ridership. Another useful site is <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> which gives a rough breakdown of where your tax dollars go. A married couple making $75,000 filing jointly (paying out approximately $8705 in federal tax. There's a lot of ballpark-ing that needs to be done.) spends $289 of that total in in federal transportation programs. Of that $289, $132 goes to highway expenditures, $41 goes to aviation expenses (including $9 to fund TSA operations). How much do Amtrak's operating expenses cost you? $3 dollars. There's also $9 to cover the high-speed rail corridor funding, which is both outside of Amtrak's operating expenses and is part of the stimulus funding, so that $9 bucks comes off your taxes next year or the year after. Now, divide that $3 by Michigan's allocation for Amtrak funding and....well, if you've dropped a nickel on the ground in the snow at a parking meter during winter and decided it wasn't worth picking up, then you've 'wasted' more than what you 'waste' on Amtrak service in Michigan


Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 9:27 p.m.

You forgot .our STICKER for the renewel every years is made out of plastic and very small , but hte price of licenseplate renewel is 50% to 75% up since that is part of the transportion money ...


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

Phil, Im in no way disagreeing, im just confused by your last paragraph and the &quot;michigan allocation&quot; and how the $3 goes to a nickel. Can you please explain it to me a little clearer, or point me to somewhere that does. I just want to be informed

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:07 p.m.

with respect to &quot;Government subsidy&quot; of transportation the same can be said for I-94. Gas taxes no longer cover the cost of roads so roads have ceased to be strictly user funded. The same can be said about air travel most major airports are not strictly passenger funded nor is the existence of the FAA to supervise air travel.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:04 p.m.

Having traveled extensively through Europe by train, it has proven to be a reliable, comfortable and very affordable way to travel. In the US, we are very loath to travel without our cars, but the high price of gasoline may soon prove to change this issue. If the US had the railway system that Europe and Asia posses, just think of the changes different areas affected by money cost could see. Places that rely on tourist dollars would suddenly become profittable again, not to mention areas around the train lines. keep the cost of tickets reasonable and watch how suddenly airline prices drop when their ridership drops. I also believe when the US stops being so dependent on oil from the ME, the oil prices will drop also because of the lack of demand. Just my opinions, of course.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 6:46 p.m.

Not only in Europe, but even in the Northeastern U.S. states like New Jersey have implemented a program called &quot;Hub Cities&quot; where tax incentives have lured developers to build residential opportunities near train stations. I live in New Brunswick, NJ, and in the last eight years I've seen a number of large residential units open near the train station downtown. The result has been a much more vibrant downtown; more businesses downtown because there are more people, and people driving their cars less often. Again, the Midwest can continue to live in the 1950's and believe that everyone wants to live in the suburbs and drive a mile to buy toothpaste, or it can realize its enormous potential by networking (i.e. effective rail service) it's cities, and world-class universities. Thus, the Midwest can continue to rely exclusively on the &quot;car culture&quot; which continues to require more and more resources further and further away from economic centers; or it can diversify by reinvesting in urban center and provide living and transportation options to support those alternatives. People seem to forget that every suburb exists because it is near a larger economic center, not the other way around.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 4:38 p.m.

@Snoopdog, SE Michigan is just as dense as other areas in the US that have regional transit. You could look it up on Census 2010.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 2:55 p.m.

Oil prices will drop when prospectors stop pushing the price per barrell up. Here is a good article on that and it also shows that we are not as dependent on ME oil as the general public is led to believe. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

additionally much of the infrastructure in Europe's old cites were built before the automobile and are ill equipped to handle it. Another reason that they use trains


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:42 p.m.

Europe has density and large population centers. The USA has a massive density problem which makes trains very unprofitable. We have a lot of tourists that go up north but there would never be enough to support building new rail to serve that area. Again, we have a density problem. Good Day


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 12:47 p.m.

So, does AMTRAK cover operational expenses without the government subsidies? Regardless if the mode of transportation is train or bus, if it cannot cover operational expenses without government dollars it is a flawed form of transportation. Please show us the money


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 4:37 p.m.

Insidethehall, no form of transportation covers its expenses without public subsidies.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

ITH, Does auto traffic operate without subsidies? Who builds roads? Who maintains roads? Airlines live on subsidies and tax breaks. Mass transport is what keeps business rolling and the government is aware of that fact.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 12:26 p.m.

I might be more agreeable of this if there was some indication Amtrak could operate without endless subsidies from the gov't. Presently, it only can in a few areas of the country and Michigan is not one of them. This country decided long ago, 1950's, that automobiles were the way to go. That is why we have an extensive interstate highway system and state highway systems that give EVERYONE access to transporation, not just those who live on the route from Detroit to Chicago. We would do better to invest our tax dollars on road improvements and leave trains to do what trains do best, moving freight.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.

McGiver, I wish highways could exist without being a drain on our tax dollars. ALL forms of transportation are subsidized today. Tell me why investing in one mode of transit is a good idea? The fact of the matter is that investing in transit stimulate private investment. Studies show Chicago, Boston, Denver received significant private investment in real estate close to transit stops. Why? People people want to live there. Sorry, not everybody shares your blind love with the car.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:57 p.m.

&quot;This country decided long ago, 1950s, that automobiles were the way to go,&quot; ...And has continued to heavily subsidize that decision ever since. Subsidized to the tune of over $70B in 2007, according to, with gas taxes and tolls making up only a scant majority (51%) of highway costs. We shouldn't expect trains to be profitable, just like we can't expect roads to be profitable. As infrastructure, their purpose is not to make money, but to provide a service of mobility.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1 p.m.

I would bet the ridership would double overnight if the tracks belonged to Amtrak Chi-Det. Make this train efficient and it will make money. It takes investment. We have to be willing to invest. Moving people is what Chicago has done so well and that downtown is overflowing with life. Michigan has failed to keep up. Auto traffic isn't the answer in my opinion.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 11:51 a.m.

Chicago has also has public transit ... when you get off Amtrak you can get onto another train... Nothing against rail, all forms of transportation have their plusses and minuses...


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 12:30 p.m.

braggslaw, Yes, it's can get to the 'burbs, to the airports, to attractions around town etc..just by hopping a train or cab. No need for a car. Smart planning. We need some smart planning!

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 11:37 a.m.

&quot;It is true that Ann Arbor continues to be the busiest stop,&quot; Hieftje said. &quot;People here really get it ...&quot; Get what Mr Mayor? Ann Arbor continues to be #1 and Kalamazoo #2 in part because they have Universities with a boat load of college students who don't have cars. I'm not anti-train folks. I'm anti-politicians making pointless statements.

Mike D.

Mon, Apr 25, 2011 : 4:16 p.m.

@Craig I am not sure I see how saying you're &quot;anti-politicians making pointless statements&quot; is different from accusing him of being political. But if you say so, forgive my misinterpretation.

Craig Lounsbury

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.

MikeD, I didn't attack his statement as &quot;political&quot; . Your reading in to something I didn't say.

Mike D.

Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 5:04 p.m.

I find his statement eminently rational. Ann Arbor is not the largest community on the route, but it has the highest ridership. We use it proportionally more than other communities. Therefore, we &quot;get it.&quot; You can chalk it up to students not having cars or whatever, but to attack his statement as political is a bit much.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 1:08 p.m.

Craig, I agree. It's a weird comment, because I think people all along the way &quot;get it&quot;. And the AA riders are students, families (lots of kids and strollers too...(the American Girl store downtown Chicago is a big attraction for the girls), seniors (who get a nice discount), etc...nice mix.


Sun, Apr 24, 2011 : 10:56 a.m.

I am hoping for an Ypsilanti stop and for the end to reliance on freight train tracks for passenger service. Hearing the news that gasoline may well go to $6.50 a gallon soon (NBC news), train travel continues to become an economic and hassle-free way to travel. It is also a joy to reach Chicago and already be right in the center of downtown! There's no need to get transportation from the airport back to downtown areas. In short.....All Aboard!