FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 19, 2005
CONTACT: Mike Whims, Chairman or John DeLora, Executive Director PHONE: (248) 892-4545 or (313) 575-6608
Many Michigan Amtrak passengers may be left at the station after state Legislators recommended cutting $1 million from Michigan’s fiscal year 2006 passenger rail budget on Thursday. The budget will go to Governor Granholm. If approved, this cut will end the Port Huron – East Lansing – Chicago Blue Water and the Grand Rapids – Holland – Chicago Pere Marquette trains.
The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) opposes any cuts to Amtrak, especially at a time when both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette are experiencing ridership increases. During the first half of the current fiscal year, the Blue Water has experienced a 21% ridership increase and the Pere Marquette has seen an 11% increase compared to the same period a year ago.
Amtrak currently receives $7.1 million from the state; however, Senate Bill 281 would cut next year’s budget down to $6.1 million. Cutting $1million from Amtrak’s budget forces both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette to be eliminated under the current contract with the state. The bill contains an amendment by Rich Brown (D-Bessemer) that would restore funding if Amtrak would move a major maintenance facility from Beech Grove, Indiana (near Indianapolis) to Michigan.
“This is political blackmail,” said Mike Whims, MARP Chairman. “Amtrak is not going to move a multi-million dollar facility based solely on getting back the $1 million it already needs for Michigan train operations.”
MARP believes these Amtrak routes are a valuable form of transportation for many Michigan communities. In addition, Amtrak provides jobs to Michigan citizens and purchases goods and services from several Michigan businesses. “The increasing ridership proves that Michigan citizens want the service. High fuel prices and airline bankruptcies make train service even more critical for the future,” said Whims.
Citizens are urged to contact Governor Granholm, state representatives, and state senators to voice support for Amtrak.
The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is an all volunteer, non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers, and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations.
For further information please contact Mike Whims (248) 892-4545 or John DeLora at (313) 575-6608 or visit MARP’s website at http://www.marp.org.