Category Archives: Announcements

In case you haven’t noticed, Amtrak’s Pere Marquette is on a new schedule

Amtrak press release:

A new schedule for the Amtrak Pere Marquette will make it more convenient for passengers to attend sports, music and theatre events in Chicago and result in eight to 10 jobs being based in Grand Rapids, Mich.,effective May 4, 2015. The new schedule (attached) also improves connections with other Amtrak trains.

The current schedule allows a six-hour day in Chicago and was crafted for Chicago-based crew cycles. Last year’s opening of the Vernon J. Ehlers Station allowed for the creation of a crew base in downtown Grand Rapids and a nine-hour day for passengers to work or play in Chicago.

Amtrak employed 237 Michigan residents last year, with total wages of $19.5 million. Goods and services purchased in Michigan by Amtrak totaled $17.3 million in 2014.

All Amtrak service in Michigan is operated under a contract with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).


Washtenaw and Livingston Commuter Rail (WALLY) Feasibility Study community meeting scheduled March 30, 2015

The North-South Commuter Rail (WALLY) is a proposed 27-mile long commuter rail service that would connect Ann Arbor and Howell, with intermediate stops along the way. It is being evaluated as a way to improve mobility along US-23 and to promote economic development and job creation in the region.

A feasibility study is being undertaken by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority (AAATA) to assess in detail the feasibility of the North-South Commuter Rail service. This federally-funded study will take about 15 months to complete and will consist of distinct phases and tasks that have been identified in conjunction with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and the Federal Transit Administration (FTA). The results of this assessment, which includes in-depth public and stakeholder involvement, will be used to determine project costs, ridership, potential station locations, and the capacity and willingness of the affected communities to build, operate and help fund the project. If the project is found feasible, the study will help to prepare the project for future federal funding.

Two community meetings have already been held, one on March 12th at the Brighton Community Center and one on March 16th at the Ann Arbor District Library. A third meeting has been scheduled for:

Monday, March 30, 6:30-8:30 PM
Bennett Recreation Center
925 W. Grand River
Howell, MI

The intent of these meetings is to provide an update on the status of the North-South Commuter Rail (WALLY) project and an overview of the feasibility study. There will be a presentation at the beginning of the meeting followed by discussion to answer questions and obtain public input on the project and the process. The presentation and format will be the same for all three meetings.

In addition to the meetings, an interactive website has been established and your participation is encouraged ( For additional information, please contact Michael Benham at AAATA at (734) 794-1851 or

Here’s where to look for updates on the M-1 Rail project in Detroit

An artist's rendition of the completed M-1 Rail project.
An artist’s rendition of the completed M-1 Rail project.

M-1 Rail is posting weekly constructions updates on its website, Facebook page and Twitter feed. There is even an option to receive weekly updates via email. Visit their website at for more information.

M-1 RAIL is a non-profit organization formed in 2007 to lead the design, construction, and future operation of a 3.3-mile circulating streetcar along Woodward Avenue between Congress Street and West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan.

Once completed, there will be a stop at the Detroit Amtrak station.

M-1 RAIL is an unprecedented public-private partnership and model for regional collaboration Notably, the first major transit project being led and funded by both private businesses, philanthropic organizations, in partnership with local government, the State of Michigan, and U.S. Department of Transportation.

The mission of M-1 RAIL is to create a catalyst for investment, economic development and urban renewal that positively impacts the entire region through the construction of a streetcar circulator system running along and connecting Woodward Avenue from the Riverfront to the New Center and North End neighborhoods

The M-1 RAIL Woodward Avenue Streetcar project is envisioned to be one element of a future modern, world-class regional transit system where all forms of transportation, including rail, bus, vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian, are considered and utilized to build a vibrant, walkable region that includes a thriving Downtown Detroit. This city center is envisioned by supporters of M-1 RAIL to become a foundation for growth and prosperity throughout the surrounding neighborhoods adjacent to the Central Business District, Midtown, New Center and North End.

Save 20% on Amtrak tickets

Amtrak is offering discounts on select routes in Michigan beginning January 5, 2015:

winter2013Book your travel now through March 30, 2015, for travel January 5 through March 31, 2015, to save. Your trip could take you to shimmering shores of Lake Michigan or Lake Huron, or bring you as far as Grand Rapids or Detroit.

Travel the following routes, including:

  • The Blue Water – which stops in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and the maritime town of Port Huron
  • The Pere Marquette – offers a scenic ride that connects Chicago and Grand Rapids.
  • The Wolverine – travels east from Chicago all the way to Detroit.
Have a Relaxing or  Adventurous Winter Getaway

Make the most of The Midwest Winter Warm Up Sale and enjoy traveling in comfort with less stress and great amenities. Your winter getaway begins the minute you step onboard. And when you book now through March 30, 2015, for travel January 5 through March 31, 2015, you’ll have even more to enjoy — a savings of 20%.


Terms and Conditions
  • Valid for 20% off the regular (full) adult rail fare.
  • Valid for sale now through March 30, 2015.
  • Valid for travel January 5 – March 31, 2015.
  • Blackout dates:
    – February 13, 2015
    – February 16, 2015
  • Advance reservations are required a minimum of one (1) day prior to travel.
  • Seating is limited; seats may not be available on all trains at all times.
  • Up to two (2) children ages 2 – 12 may accompany each adult at half the regular (full) adult rail fare.
  • Children and infants must travel with an adult who is 18 years or older.
  • Valid for travel on the following services: Blue Water, Pere Marquette and Wolverine.
  • Valid for Coach seats.
  • Upgrade to Business Class is available upon full payment of applicable accommodation charges.
  • Fares, routes and schedules are subject to change without notice.
  • Not combinable with any other discount offer.
  • In addition to the discount restrictions, this offer is also subject to any restrictions, blackouts and refund rules that apply to the type of fare purchased.
  • Once travel has begun, no changes to the itinerary are permitted.
  • Other restrictions may apply.

MARP meets in Kalamazoo March 14, 2015

MARP Member Meeting
Saturday, March 14, 2015
10:30 a.m. – 12:03 p.m.
First Methodist Church
212 South Park Street
Kalamazoo MI 49007

 Map & Directions

Snow may still be on the ground, but there will be plenty of green all around when MARP meets in Kalamazoo on St. Patrick’s Day. Our guest speaker will be Shasta Duffey who is the Vice-President for Sales and Marketing for Grand Elk Railroad. Grand Elk, a division of Watco, is based in Kalamazoo and carries freight on the former Grand Rapids & Indiana line between Elkhart and Grand Rapids. Ms. Duffey gave a well-received presentation at the Michigan Rail Conference last fall at Macomb Community College that was attended by several MARP members. She will bring us up to date on the operations and outlook for the short-line freight business in West Michigan. She may also be able to give us some information on an interesting venture involving Watco and Iowa Pacific Holdings in a proposal to begin scheduled passenger service on the “Sooner Sub” between Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Some of you may choose to take the train to Kalamazoo. Amtrak has sweetened the pot with 20% savings on the Midwest Winter Warm-Up Sale. Click here to make your reservations.

          Westbound #351     9:35a          Eastbound #352   4:08p
Westbound #365   10:25a          Eastbound #364   7:12p

Please email if you plan to arrive by train. We will have cars at the station to take you to the church. If you are driving to the meeting and can be at the station to meet the Wolverine at 9:35a or the Blue Water at 10:25a, please reply to this email.

Note that the meeting will start a bit later than usual to accommodate those arriving by train. We will have lunch at the Old Dog Tavern, located next to track used by Grand Elk. Some of you will remember the outstanding Pasty’s served at the Old Dog, the venue of our previous meeting in Kalamazoo.

kzooumcThe First Methodist Church is on the west side of downtown Kalamazoo, one of the 5 churches that surround Bronson Park. First Methodist is the church across from the northwest corner of the Park. Photo & Directions are here.

Our new West Region Chair, Warren Fritz, is hoping for a good turnout of folks from this corner of the state. During or after lunch, he would like to gather you together to talk about some ideas for the region, one of which is planning for a possible visit of the Amtrak Exhibit Train to Grand Rapids in June.

Hoping for a big crowd!


There is much to do in downtown Kalamazoo. If you’ve got the winter blues, you might consider making a weekend of it. Below are some ideas.

Kalamazoo Visitor Information

Explore Downtown Kalamazoo
Events March 13-15 include The Pink Floyd Experience, Maple Sugar Fest, Young Vocalists Contest, Farmers Alley Theatre “Good Night Moon”, Gordon Lightfoot concert

Evidence Found: Explorations in Archaeology and exhibits showcasing Kalamazoo History

The Civic Theatre presents “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”

Gilmore Car Museum

Air Zoo

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts featuring an exhibit of Chinese Folk Pottery and the final 2 days of “Wired and Wrapped: Sculpture by Seungmo Park”

The RockShow Ultimate Journey Tribute This show at the recently refurbished Kalamazoo State Theatre will take you back to the days when Journey topped the charts.