Category Archives: Press Releases

Amtrak trains are still running in Michigan despite budget cuts

Governor Granholm signed into law the FY 2006 budget act (P.A. 158) which authorizes $6.1 million for operation of the Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains for the budget year. The act requires that both trains run on a 7-day per week schedule and serve all cities along their routes. The act also provides for penalties if Amtrak chooses to eliminate any of the service prior to the end of the budget year (September 30, 2006).

The act also requires MDOT to work toward finding ways to reduce expenses of operating the trains. This could mean a number of things, such as station staffing, food service, and other operational costs.

There is a provision for increasing the funding level to $7.1 million if Amtrak signs an agreement to move its Beech Grove, Indiana equipment repair and maintenance operation to Battle Creek. Amtrak has already indicated that this is unlikely to occur.

The act is silent regarding fares. Amtrak could conceivably raise its fares to make up for the shortfall in state support. Amtrak has already announced a nationwide fare increase to offset rising fuel expenses.

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.

MARP wishes to thank its members who communicated their support of Michigan passenger rail service to community leaders and state officials. MARP will continue to work with MDOT and state officials toward reinstating the $7.1 million funding level during the budget year. It is important to let people know that both trains are still running.

##

Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Elects Executive Committee

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

September 21, 2005

CONTACT: Mike Whims, Chairman or John DeLora, Executive Director PHONE: (248) 892-4545 or (313) 575-6608

The membership of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers elected its Executive Committee for the 2005-2007 term at its September 17, 2005 annual meeting in Detroit. The re-elected officers include Michael Whims (Royal Oak), chairman; Michael Frezell (Lansing), vice chairman; James Wallington (Perry), secretary; John DeLora (Detroit), Executive Director/metro Detroit chapter chair; Richard Pekarek (Grand Blanc), east/central Michigan chapter chair, John Langdon (Holland), western Michigan chapter chair, and Clark Charnetski (Ann Arbor), at-large executive.

Newly elected Executive Committee members include Andrew Kent (Au Gres), Northern Michigan chapter chair; Kay Chase (Kalamazoo), at-large executive; Kazuya Fujita (East Lansing), at-large executive, and J.R. Valderas (Holland), at-large executive. The committee appointed David Randall (Livonia) as treasurer to replace the late Terry Donnelly (Marquette).

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.

##

TWO MICHIGAN AMTRAK ROUTES COULD STOP IN OCTOBER

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.

##

Transportation Symposium:MICHIGAN PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

** CANCELLED **

The Aug. 20 seminar has been cancelled and will be rescheduled for Oct. 8. We will combine passenger and freight. We did not meet our minimum attendance requirements. The depot will return the money for those who have paid.

Durand Union Station and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers Present:

Transportation Symposium:
MICHIGAN PASSENGER RAIL SERVICE: PAST, PRESENT AND FUTURE

As part of Durand Union Station’s centennial celebration we are hosting two transportation seminars.

The first focusing on passenger rail, Sat., Aug. 20, 2005, and the second on freight rail transportation combined with an art show featuring railroad, artist, Paul Adams, Sat., Oct. 8, 2005 at the historic Durand Union Station.

The cost of the Aug. 20 seminar will be $20, which includes a box lunch. The cost for the Oct. 8 symposium will be $35. More information will be provided at a later date for the Oct. 8 seminar.

Click on this link for a printable schedule and reservation form.

Please return your reservation form by Aug. 1 with check payable to Durand Union Station Inc. for $20. Limited seating is available.

The Durand Union Station is located at 100 Railroad Street, Durand, MI, 48429. The station’s website is http://durandstation.org/.

###

Help Stop the Great Train Robbery!!

Join with members of the SEMG Sierra Club, Transportation Riders United (TRU) and Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers on Saturday, June 25, 2005 for a day long excursion from Pontiac to Kalamazoo to show support for full Federal funding of Amtrak. Proposed Federal budget cuts would virtually assure an end to passenger rail service in the State of Michigan.

We will meet at the Pontiac Amtrak station (free parking available) at 10 a.m. for a press conference/rally after which we will board the 11:05 a.m. train (see schedule below for times) bound for Kalamazoo…join us for the whole trip or just part of the journey as your time allows!!!

We will leaflet and converse with passengers at each stop along the route, urging them to contact their legislators to oppose any Federal budget cuts to Amtrak!!! According to Amtrak’s latest surveys, Michigan ridership is up 15% from last year, serving over 600,000 passengers per year and employing 133 Michigan state residents. Rep. Joe Knollenberg (MI) chairs the House Transportation Subcommittee for the Appropriations Committee in Washington, DC. If there is only one action you can take, please phone, email or FAX (letters may be subject to security delays) his office to let him know you want full funding support for Amtrak. (FAX number (202) 226-2356 or email: Rep. Joe knollenberg@mail.house.gov), as well your own national and state legislator since state funding is also at risk.

Help spread the word to your family, neighbors & friends!!! Don’t allow George Bush and his Congressional allies to pull the plug on Amtrak by taking away Federal support!!

Don’t Delay; Riders must buy their own tickets or make reservations on line at www.Amtrak.com or at a staffed Amtrak station. The earlier the better; the fare could increase as it gets closer to the departure date or the train could reach capacity. Amtrak officials say that we should not wait for the special discount. Please R.V.S.P. Ed McArdle 313-388-6645 or ecoed@netzero.net so that we can notify Amtrak to make special arrangements.

For more info contact: TRU (313)963-8872 trumember@detroittransit.org or Sierra Club (313)388-6645 ecoed@netzero.net

##