From The Grand Rapids Press:
The following opinion reflects the position of The Grand Rapids Press editorial board.
Traveling from Grand Rapids to Detroit is easy. That is, if you own a vehicle.
Otherwise, you can buy a ticket for a bus ride down I-96. If you’re really itching to go by train, you can bus to Kalamazoo and hop aboard Amtrak’s Wolverine Line to Detroit.
Better yet, within the next decade, you might be able to take a train right out of Grand Rapids itself. It is welcome news that a study will be conducted into the cost and feasibility of a new train route between Michigan’s two largest cities.
The $100,000 study, authorized in February by the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority, will determine the efficacy of a Detroit-Lansing-Grand Rapids-Holland rail corridor.
The Grand Rapids region should work to support efforts to establish rail service to and from Detroit. It is very early in the process, and plenty of questions will go unanswered until the study is complete. But public and private transportation and economic development groups in Grand Rapids should work to ensure they have a strong voice in the process as it moves forward.
There are many compelling reasons to connect Grand Rapids and Detroit by passenger train. Both cities are up-and-coming; Grand Rapids is enjoying a much-storied renaissance, and Detroit is beginning to rebuild after bankruptcy. The future holds much promise for each, and new connections between the two — physical and otherwise — are a plus.
Rail travel also has become increasingly popular among the younger generation. Fewer are buying cars, and more are choosing to live in cities that have or are connected to formidable public transit systems.
There’s also been increased demand in recent years for Amtrak’s Grand Rapids-to-Chicago Pere Marquette Line, which has seen near-record ridership numbers. As Detroit raises its profile and grows, it is increasingly likely that demand for a Grand Rapids-Detroit train will grow even more.
The Grand Rapids Press editorial board is editor Julie Hoogland, business reporter Monica Scott, health reporter Sue Thoms, business reporter Shandra Martinez and community engagement specialist Zane McMillin.