Category Archives: FYI

Operation Lifesaver awarded grant to boost rail safety education and awareness

qi9kIxKKThe 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.

It is part of the nonprofit safety group’s ongoing “See Tracks? Think Train!” public awareness campaign.

The money will be used to boost awareness on billboards, movie theater advertising and displays for public events.

Federal statistics show that about every three hours, a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States.

Michigan ranks 10th nationally for crossing collisions train incidents, with 13 deaths from 79 crashes in 2014 according to Sam Crowl, State Coordinator for Michigan Operation Lifesaver.

 

Amtrak Train Days at Grand Rapids Amtrak Station July 25, 2015

Vernon J. Ehlers Station 440 Century Avenue SW, Grand Rapids Michigan, 49503
Vernon J. Ehlers Station
440 Century Avenue SW, Grand Rapids
Michigan, 49503

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!

For additional details on the Exhibit Train Tour, please visit: http://www.amtrak.com/exhibit-train

Wolverine Train 350 Will Not Stop at Troy, MI – Monday through Saturday Only

Effective through June 20, 2015

Due to summer schedule changes required by track improvements in Indiana and Michigan, Train 350 will not stop at Troy on Monday through Saturday, through June 20, 2015.

While service is suspended at Troy, passengers can make reservations at alternate stations including Dearborn, Detroit, Royal Oaks and Pontiac.

Trains Serving Troy

During this period, Train 350 will stop at Troy on Sundays, and all other Wolverine trains will continue to offer daily service at Troy.

Reservations and the most up-to-date schedules are available on Amtrak.com, free mobile apps and at 1-800-USA-RAIL (1-800-872-7245).

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).

Amtrak-Pere-Marquette-Schedule-Change-ATK-15-024-2

Tuesday, May 5, 2014 ballot proposal could increase train and transit funding

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:

Click to enlarge
Click on chart to enlarge

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.