For Immediate Release
30 July 2009
John Langdon, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers: 616.218.9009
Tim Fischer, Michigan Environmental Council: 517.487.3606 ext. 12
The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers has unanimously approved a resolution of support for continuing seven day a week passenger train service on both the Pere Marquette and Blue Water routes.
“Recent actions in Lansing have prompted us to take this action to protect a travel choice that is more important than ever in this difficult economy,” said John DeLora, who chairs the organization.
Proposed state budget cuts would eliminate at least one and perhaps both of the train routes at a time when more riders than ever rely on them.
“Ridership on these routes has grown more than 50% in the last six years,” DeLora said.
Convenient passenger trains service is an important component of revitalizing Michigan’s economy, said Tim Fischer, deputy policy director with the Michigan Environmental Council.
“Killing rail service will rip vital economic arteries from the hearts of downtowns served by these trains,” Fischer said. “This would be a loss not just for the riders, but for dozens of Michigan towns.”
Passenger trains have become increasingly essential over the last decade despite years of underfunding at the federal level. Last April, President Obama announced a $13 billion initiative to dramatically improve and expand train service throughout the nation.
“Michigan has a good chance to capture some of this funding to complete the high speed rail line connecting Chicago and Detroit,” said John Langdon, governmental affairs coordinator.
The state of Michigan provides operational support for two of the three routes in Michigan. The Pere Marquette, which is celebrating its 25th year of service, serves Grand Rapids, Holland, Bangor, St. Joseph, and New Buffalo. The Blue Water serves Port Huron, Lapeer, Flint, Durand, East Lansing, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, Dowagiac, and Niles.
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The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) is a 501 (c)(3) 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 more information, visit www.marp.org.