Category Archives: Announcements

MARP meets at new Dearborn Amtrak station on June 11, 2016

MARP Member Meeting
Saturday, June 11, 2016
10 a.m. to Noon
John D. Dingell Transit Center (Amtrak Station)
21201 Michigan Ave, Dearborn, MI 48124

Map & Directions

The new Dearborn Amtrak station which opened as the John D. Dingell Transit Center in December of 2014 will be the venue for the June 11 MARP general membership meeting.

The meeting will feature a presentation titled “Presidential Travel By Train”. The speaker will be Radford Jones who, as a U. S. Secret Service agent, was responsible for security of six U.S. Presidents as well as security coordination during the 1976 Presidential inauguration and advance teams for three political conventions. In 2009 he was recognized by Security Magazine as one of the 25 most influential persons in security. Audiences in SE Michigan have found Mr. Jones’s telling of the history of the Secret Service and his experiences with the Kennedy tenure entertaining as well as informative.

Mr. Jones is a native of Hillsdale MI. Retiring after 21 years with the U.S. Secret Service, he became the manager of security and fire protection for Ford Motor Company. Subsequently, he taught in the School of Criminal Justice at Michigan State University and directed the school’s Criminal Justice online degree program.

His freelanced Move It On (MIO) Railroad System, Hillsdale Division, a New York Central connector, duplicates many locations he visited during his year career with the U. S. Secret Service.

Please plan to join your fellow members and friends for the usual no-host lunch following the meeting.

If you are interested in ride-sharing to the meeting, simply reply to this link. We will do our best to match you up with a ride or riders.


Michigan Auditor General praises commuter car deal

MDOT’s handling of the controversial commuter rail cars was correct, and will potentially save up to $1,680,000 a year.


Remember the dust-up about how Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) was “wasting public funds” by leasing and refurbishing rail cars? These were the cars purchased by Great Lakes Central Railroad (GLC) from Chicago’s Metra commuter service. In 2010 MDOT’s Office of Rail leased 23 of these cars and commissioned GLC to refurbish them for anticipated commuter service in Michigan. (See the detailed article in The Michigan Passenger, Spring 2015 p.1)

As a result of an official state audit and media criticism, a legislative hearing was conducted in March of 2015. MARP submitted written testimony to the legislative committees, supporting the lease and refurbishment as foresighted and cost-saving. The result and the audit and hearing was a requirement that MDOT renegotiate the terms of the lease, terminating payments by the end of 2015 while retaining the right to lease the cars later, when and if commuter service is started.

The Southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority (RTA) recently released their study [] of the Michigan Avenue Corridor (Detroit-Ann Arbor), recommending at least eight round-trip trains every day. The announcement was greeted with enthusiasm by local officials and business leaders along the line. If citizens pass the RTA millage in November this year, we could see these commuter cars rolling in Southeast Michigan as early as 2019.

On April 29 this year, Michigan’s Auditor General released a report [] certifying that MDOT did in fact comply with the requirement. In addition, they estimate Office of Rail’s new contracts with GLC brought about potential savings of $60,000-140,000 per month, or $720,000-1,680,000 per year.

That’s in addition to the money saved by refurbishing used cars in the first place. MARP estimates each refurbished, restroom-equipped car to cost $2.5 million less than the cost of new double-deck commuter cars. It even saved half a million dollars per car under what California recently paid to purchase and refurbish single-level used commuter cars, according to an investigation by Clark Charnetski. And about 3/4 of the money spent by MDOT stayed in Michigan, providing jobs for skilled Michigan technicians during the depths of the Great Recession.

MARP meets in Jackson May 21

MARP Membership Meeting
Carnegie Library
244 W Michigan, Jackson MI 49201
Saturday, May 21, 2016
10 a.m. – Noon

Map & Directions

Please plan to attend the May 21 MARP meeting at the Carnegie Library in downtown Jackson. MARP member Gerald Callison will be on hand to demonstrate the Google map that he has created of Michigan Amtrak routes. Also on the agenda will be an in-depth discussion of the work of the Route Enhancement Committee chaired by Hugh Gurney. The membership discussion will center around recent rail developments with an eye toward having input in the pending updates of Michigan’s 2040 State Long Range Transportation Plan and the Michigan State Rail Plan. See this month’s issue of  ON TRACK for links to information on these state plans.

MARP meets April 16, 2016 in New Buffalo

MARP Membership Meeting
New Buffalo Township Library
33 N Thompson St, New Buffalo, MI 49117
Saturday, April 16, 2016, 10:30am – 1pm EDT

Map & Directions

The April 16 MARP meeting will take place at the New Buffalo Township Library. We have invited colleagues from Indiana to join us. Steve Coxhead, President of the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, will have an update on the Hoosier State train now under private management. He will also have information about other projects the Indiana groups are working on. Fred Lanahan, who heads the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association, is unable to attend, but will send a report on the current status of the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus corridor project which is a primary focus of the group. We will also have an update on the Indiana Gateway projects.

Many of you said you would like to take the train to New Buffalo. GOOD NEWS! John Langdon has succeeded in getting permission for Train #351 to make a stop in New Buffalo. You will have to buy a ticket on Train #351 to Chicago. You can book your return trip on Train #352 leaving New Buffalo at 3:09 pm. For best fares, buy your ticket NOW. If you are a Guest Rewards member, you can earn double points on this purchase. See the Double Points promotion showing on the Amtrak homepage.

Some of our guests may be arriving from the Chicago metro area on Train #350 at 9:37 am. So we have planned a “social hour” with coffee and pastries available at 10:30 am (eastern daylight time). If you are driving, please plan to take advantage of this opportunity for some extra “schoozing”. The business meeting will begin promptly at 11 am.

Lunch will be at the nearby Stray Dog Bar & Grill, just a short stroll from the train platform for those of you who will be catching the train to return home.

We look forward to seeing you in NBU!


New Buffalo is a small beach community with a number of interesting shops and art galleries. The library is just a block and a half from the train and our lunch place is close by. If you want to make a weekend of it, you could visit the New Buffalo Railroad Museum which appears to be operating on a more professional level than in the recent past. The Four Winds Casino, which sends a shuttle to meet most trains, is one of the reasons for the huge jump in ridership at this station. On a nice spring day, the beach is an easy walk to and from the train. For lodging and attractions, visit

MARP meets March 12, 2016 in Howell

MARP Member Meeting
Saturday, March 12, 2016
10 am – Noon
Cleary’s Pub
117 East Grand River Avenue, Howell
MI 48843

Map & Directions

 MARP’s next general membership meeting will be held on Saturday, March 12, at Cleary’s Pub in Howell MI. Click on the link above for driving directions. You can park on the street or in the free lot located behind the pub.

 Our featured speaker will be Michael Benham who is the Special Assistant for Strategic Planning at the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority. As such, he is responsible for guiding the planning for one of Michigan’s first commuter rail projects. The North-South Commuter Rail Project, otherwise known as the WALLY, is seen as a cost-effective alternative to ease traffic congestion along US-23 between Howell and Ann Arbor, as well as a spur to economic development and job creation opportunities in the region.

Mr. Benham will provide an update on the technical study currently underway. This detailed study is developing ridership and cost estimates, considering locations for stations and maintenance facilities, looking at governance and funding considerations, as well as reviewing possible alternatives, such as express bus service and high occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes on US-23.

We hope to be joined by members of The Friends of WALLY, a grassroots organization working to build support for the commuter rail project. Several MARP members are among those who are working to see this project become a reality.

Following the business meeting, we will continue conversations over our usual non-host lunch.   Cleary’s Pub enjoys a reputation for excellent food!

If you are interested in ride-sharing to the meeting, please respond to this email. And – a gentle reminder – if you have not yet paid your 2016 membership dues, please click here NOW to pay online or click here to download a mail-in form.