Enhanced passenger rail service could generate $23.1 billion in Midwest;

Contact:  Bill Shreck, Director of Communications, 517-335-3084
Agency: Transportation
April 18, 2007 – – Improved passenger rail service offers a convenient, alternative way to travel, which translates into substantial economic benefits for users, communities and states, according to a new report issued by the nine states participating in the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI). The MWRRI consists of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, and Wisconsin.

Enhanced passenger rail service provided by a 3,000-mile Midwest Regional Rail System (MWRRS) could generate $23.1 billion in user benefits from time savings, congestion relief and emission reductions during the first 40 years of the project. For Michigan, the benefits could total between $2.3 billion to $3.5 billion, in addition to creating 6,970 new, permanent jobs, and $138 million in extra household income.

“This report shows that an investment in providing frequent and reliable passenger rail services pays enormous benefits,” said Kirk T. Steudle, director, Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT).

Steudle noted that the investments in passenger rail provide a benefit-to-cost ratio of 1.8, which indicates that for each dollar spent on the system, $1.80 is returned in benefits, one of the highest returns for any regional rail system in the United States.

The report also shows that development of the proposed regional passenger rail system would create 57,450 new jobs, provide more than $1 billion in extra household income across the nine-state region, and $4.9 billion in increased joint development potential for the 102 cities with MWRRS rail stations.

The proposed MWRRS would consist of a 3,000-mile network with the hub being Chicago. The service would offer travelers the benefits of trains operating at speeds up to 110 mph, providing travel times that are competitive with driving, increased trip frequencies, improved on-time performance, and new trains with modern amenities.

Several communities throughout the nine-state region are making plans to expand their stations and provide multi-modal connections with buses, taxis, and other modes. These new improvements encourage development of nearby properties. The resulting increase in property values is referred to as “joint development potential.” Joint development potential for MWRRS communities has been estimated at $4.9 billion.

The estimated increased joint development potential in Michigan ranges from $481 million to $719 million.

Joint development potential estimates for Michigan communities to be served by the proposed Midwest Regional Rail System include:

Detroit: $76 million – $114 million
Kalamazoo: $53 million – $80 million
Ann Arbor: $48 million – $72 million
Flint: $43 million – $64 million
Lansing: $42 million – $63 million
Grand Rapids: $41 million – $61 million
Battle Creek: $40 million – $57 million
West Detroit suburbs (Dearborn) $36 million – $54 million
North Detroit suburbs (Royal Oak) $27 million – $40 million
Pontiac: $23 million – $35 million
Jackson: $18 million – $28 million
Holland: $16 million – $24 million
Port Huron: $9 million – $14 million
Niles: $9 million – $13 million

“These figures show that passenger rail development not only provides benefits to users, but also can provide important economic development benefits to Michigan communities in the form of increased jobs, income and property values,” Steudle emphasized.

The MWRRS would serve Michigan with three routes: Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac; Chicago-Grand Rapids-Holland; and Chicago-Port Huron. All three routes have a number of intermediate stops.

The entire economic benefit analysis, including brochures summarizing the report findings, is available on the MDOT Web site at www.michigan.gov/mdot. From the home page, select Rail & Public Transit for information about the Midwest Regional Rail System.

MDOT: Providing the highest quality integrated transportation services for economic benefit and improved quality of life.