The state is getting a new grant to boost rail safety education. Michigan Operation Lifesaver has been awarded $8,400 from Operation Lifesaver, Inc., in partnership with the Federal Railroad Administration.
All Aboard Grand Rapids to Celebrate Amtrak Train Days! On Saturday, July 25, 2015, the Amtrak Exhibit Train is pulling into the Grand Rapids Amtrak Station from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Meet us at the station and come aboard for a free self-guided tour through Amtrak’s past, present and future. For the youngest rail fans, stop off at Chuggington Kids Depot, featuring toy train and coloring tables. There’s something that’s bound to strike a chord for everyone!
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).
Passenger train and mass transit programs in the state may see an estimated $112 million increase annually if voters approve an amendment to the state constitution on Tuesday, May 5, 2014, raising the sales tax and restructuring how taxes are collected for transportation.
In a December lame-duck session, Michigan lawmakers approved plans for a statewide ballot proposal, called Proposal 1, and an 11-bill package that could yield $1.2 billion a year in new funding for roads and bridges as well as the estimated $112 million increase to the Comprehensive Transportation Fund (CTF) which funds programs such as passenger trains, transit programs, intercity bus and freight rail.
The $112 million figure forthe CTF was announced by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder at a Dec. 18 press conference.
Actual funding levels for each program in the CTF are subject to future legislative debate and appropriation bills. The revenue generated for the CTF also will depend on fuel prices and other factors.
The proposal has been criticized as complicated and it has left many voters wondering what are the implications of a yes or no vote.
Gary Kuecken researched the issue and has broken it down here in terms of yes and no:
1The funding formula:
90% road repair and maintenance (for use only on road work)
39.1% Michigan Department of Transportation
39.1% county road commissions
21.8% cities and villages
10% Comprehensive Transportation Fund to benefit public transit programs
2Although it is very likely that this error will be corrected if the proposal is passed, the current wording of the current bill is as follows:
“the first $400,000,000.00 received and collected under this act” in FY2016 and “the first $800,000,000.00 received and collected under this act” in FY2017 would be distributed through the state funding formula
This amount applies to new revenue as well as existing funds such that around $1.7 billion (the $800 million intended earmark plus current baseline fuel tax revenue of around $900 million) would be earmarked for debt reduction in FY2016 resulting in a decrease in funding of $500 million from current levels.