Category Archives: News

Two Amtrak Wolverine Trains Have New Eastbound Schedules

Departures tie better to Milwaukee and allow earlier travel
CHICAGO – Lake Michigan is less of an impediment to travel between the Milwaukee and Detroit areas, effective with the semi-annual Amtrak schedule change on April 2. That’s because Train 350, the morning Wolverine Service train eastbound from Chicago, has a new schedule allowing for a connection from the first Hiawatha Service train arriving in Chicago from Milwaukee.

Additionally, Train 352, the mid-day Wolverine Service, will depart Chicago during the noon hour to offer more attractive arrivals in Michigan. The new schedules are below.

“The Amtrak Wolverine Service continues to post ridership gains and these changes are aimed to better serve our passengers needs by further improving the schedules and connections,” said Harris M. Cohen, Amtrak Program Manager, Business Initiatives.

In figures for the five months ending Feb. 28, 174,275 passengers rode on the six trains on the Chicago-Detroit-Pontiac corridor, an increase of 5.3 percent from the same period a year earlier. Ticket revenue is up by more than $425,000 and is in excess of $5.9 million for the five months of the current Amtrak fiscal year.

Overall, Amtrak ridership across the 46-state network of trains is also up for the Oct. 2006-Feb. 2007 period. The total of 9,934,410 passengers is an increase of more than four percent from the year-ago figure and includes double-digit increases on several routes.

About Amtrak

Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail service to more than 500 destinations in 46 states on a 21,000-mile route system. For schedules, fares and information, passengers may call 800-USA-RAIL or visit Amtrak.com.

Amtrak Wolverine Service
Chicago-Battle Creek-Detroit-Pontiac

Eastbound

 

  350 – Daily 352 – Daily 354 – Daily
depart Chicago 8:30 am 12:15 pm 6:00 pm
Hammond-Whiting, Ind. 8:57 am 12:42 pm  
Michigan City, Ind.   1:19 pm  
Niles, Mich. 11:09 am 2:54 pm 8:41 pm
Dowagiac 11:21 am    
Kalamazoo 12:10 pm 3:45 pm 9:30 pm
Battle Creek 12:40 pm 4:15 pm 10:00 pm
Albion   4:43 pm  
Jackson 1:30 pm 5:07 pm 10:50 pm
Ann Arbor 2:09 pm 5:47 pm 11:30 pm
Greenfield Village* 2:38 pm 6:16 pm  
Dearborn 2:46 pm 6:22 pm 11:59 pm
Detroit 3:15 pm 6:49 pm 12:32 am
Royal Oak 3:36 pm 7:10 pm 12:53 am
Birmingham 3:43 pm 7:17 pm 1:00 am
Pontiac, Mich. 4:08 pm 7:44 pm 1:29 am
Westbound

 

  351 – Daily 353 – Daily 355 – Daily
Pontiac, Mich. 6:40 am 11:05 am 5:10 pm
Birmingham 6:53 am 11:18 am 5:23 pm
Royal Oak 7:00 am 11:25 am 5:30 pm
Detroit 7:23 am 11:46 am 5:53 pm
Dearborn 7:46 am 12:13 pm 6:14 pm
Greenfield Village* 7:49 am 12:16 pm 6:17 pm
Ann Arbor 8:23 am 12:56 pm 6:51 pm
Jackson 8:59 am 1:34 pm 7:27 pm
Albion   1:58 pm 7:49 pm
Battle Creek 9:54 am 2:31 pm 8:22 pm
Kalamazoo 10:24 am 3:01 pm 8:52 pm
Dowagiac   3:29 pm 9:21 pm
Niles, Mich.   3:43 pm 9:34 pm
Michigan City, Ind.     9:11 pm
Hammond-Whiting, Ind.   3:45 p.m 9:47 pm
Chicago 11:59 a.m 4:41 pm 10:38 pm
All times local, Central Time in Illinois and Indiana, Eastern Time in Michigan.
*Greenfield Village stop is only made for group travel.
 

This news release was provided by Amtrak.
Click below for the original:

http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=Amtrak/am2Copy/News_Release_Page&c=am2Copy&cid=1173376437448&ssid=180

 

Testimony of MARP Chairman Michael Whims before the Michigan House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation

March 8, 2006

The Honorable Shelley Taub, Chairperson
Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation
Michigan House of Representatives
Lansing, Michigan

Re: Testimony of Michael J. Whims

Honorable Chairperson and Subcommittee Members:

My name is Michael J. Whims and I am Chairman of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers. I am a resident of Royal Oak, Michigan.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) is a statewide member based non-profit organization representing Michigan rail passengers for the past 33 years. Our mission is to educate the public and officials about the benefits of Michigan’s passenger rail service and connecting intercity bus and transit services, and to work toward improving and expanding this service to meet the public’s transportation needs.

The purpose of my testimony today is to provide an interim report of a statewide rail passenger survey that MARP is conducting, which is designed to understand better who takes Michigan’s two state-funded trains, and why they are using the trains as a travel mode.

The passenger survey is a written survey being conducted by MARP Executive Committee members at selected stations along the Blue Water and Pere Marquette routes. Passengers are informed that we are conducting the survey to help MARP in its mission. The survey takes less than 2 minutes for passengers to complete. We plan to conduct 1,200 surveys this spring, at four stations.

Tabulation has been completed for 300 surveys taken at the Flint station along the Blue Water route and 300 surveys taken at the Holland station along the Pere Marquette route. Surveying has been conducted throughout the week to get a representative sampling of weekday and weekend riders. We are currently conducting surveys at Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids.

Although the project is not finished, there are some trends that appear to be consistently evident from the 600 completed surveys already. I would like to share those with the Subcommittee this morning.

Each passenger is asked to provide a residence zip code. A total of 174 zip codes were reported by the 600 passengers surveyed at Flint and Holland. Of these, 68 were out-of-state or foreign zip codes, representing over 15% of the passengers surveyed.

The in-state zip codes show a wide geographic draw of ridership, well beyond the metro area of each station. Passengers come from beyond the “thumb” area for the Flint station and as far as from Traverse City for the Holland station.

A key question posed by the survey is the primary purpose for this travel. The single greatest reason given was for family gatherings and visits, accounting for over one-third of the total responses. Vacations / sight-seeing trips, and business / student commuting trips account for about 30% each. Shopping trips account for about 5% of the travel.

The interim results discussed in my testimony today are only a part of the overall information being gathered. MARP will be happy to share the full results of our survey when completed this spring. Because of the consistency of results being seen between Flint and Holland, we expect to continue to find at the other surveyed stations that a significant percentage of out-of-state residents are using Michigan’s trains. This is despite the fact that the train schedules are designed for Chicago-bound day trips. These out-of-state passengers bring revenue to Michigan businesses. Michigan should promote this travel more through Midwest marketing efforts and improved train scheduling.

Again, because of consistency of reported travel purpose already seen, we expect similar results at the other surveyed stations. The split appears to be fairly even between trips taken that unite families, those taken for personal enhancement, and those taken for personal enjoyment. The ever-increasing ridership attests to a growing public desire to use Michigan’s trains for this meaningful travel. To do this, passengers want and expect fully-funded passenger rail service.

On behalf of MARP, I wish to thank Chairperson Taub and Subcommittee members for the opportunity to speak today. I will be happy to answer questions.

Respectfully,

Michael J. Whims
Chairman
Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

MARP treasurer Terry Donnelly died July 15, 2005

Terry Donnelly

Michigan Association of Railroad Passenger (MARP) Treasurer and U.P. Coordinator Terrence F. Donnelly died Friday, July 15, 2005 at his home in Harvey, Mich. after a lengthy illness. He was 73 years old.

Terry was an active member and past president of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, where he currently served as treasurer. This past March he received a lifetime achievement award for his work with MARP.

Terry is survived by: his wife, Pavie; his brother, John Joseph (Ann Nee) Donnelly of Three Rivers; a sister, Joan Therese (Richard) Sampson of Three Rivers; a sister-in-law, Shirley LaBonte of Marquette; a brother-in-law, Edward “Bob” (Mary) Rasmussen of Iron Mountain; several nieces, nephews, and cousins. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Joseph Michael Donnelly; and a brother-in-law, Bernie LaBonte.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Louis the King Catholic Church in Harvey on Friday, July 22, at 12:30 pm with Rev. Ben Paris, pastor, as celebrant. The family will receive relatives and friends at a reception in the parish hall following mass. Burial will be made in the Holy Cross Cemetery with John Johnson, and nephews, Brendan Donnelly, Dan, Mike, and Rick Sampson, Tim and Greg LaBonte serving as pallbearers.

Memorials may be directed to Public Radio 90 or the Marquette County Humane Society.

More obituary information is available online at The Fassbender Funeral Home, Marquette, which is handling funeral arrangements. Memorial tributes can be made online. The funeral home phone number is (906) 228-3040.

###

USDOT releases annual Amtrak report

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation office of the Inspector General released its Congressionally-mandated annual report on Amtrak Nov. 22, 2004.

In the report, USDOT Inspector General Kenneth Mead is critical of plans to continue operating Amtrak in its current manner.

“Unsustainably large operating losses, poor on-time performance, and increasing levels of deferred infrastructure and fleet investment are a clarion call to the need for significant changes in Amtrak’s strategy,” Mead wrote in a memo accompanying the report. “Continued deferral brings Amtrak closer to a major point of failure on the system but no one knows where or when such a failure will occur.”

A copy of the report is available on the USDOT website.

The National Association of Rail Passengers issued a press release critical of the D.O.T. report Nov. 22. It is located at http://www.narprail.org/r04.htm.

Check MARP’s news page for the national and local media’s news perspective on the report.

Detroit Renaissance Center/Oakland County Commuter Rail Service Demonstration Could Begin this Fall!

FOR RELEASE ON THURSDAY, 24 MAY 2001 AT 11:00 PM

DETROIT, MI – John D. DeLora (of Detroit), Executive Director of the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Inc. (MARP) and Karen D. Kendrick-Hands (of Grosse Pointe Park), President of Transportation Riders United, Inc. (TRU) jointly announced today the feasibility of a modern commuter rail service demonstration that could be operational between General Motors Corporation’s Renaissance Center in Detroit and downtown Pontiac, Michigan as early as this fall.

DeLora and Kendrick-Hands announced that the Board of Directors for the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) of Seattle, Washington (Sound Transit) this afternoon authorized its “…Executive Director to enter into and execute agreements with other transit agencies in the United States and Canada to lease commuter rail equipment that is temporarily in excess of what is required to provide [Seattle area] service…”.

They noted that the equipment to be made available by Sound Transit includes brand new bi-level coaches similar to those in use in Toronto and a number of recently-established US commuter railroad operations. The available equipment also includes brand new General Motors Corporation Electro-Motive Division locomotives.

DeLora stated that the demonstration would help considerably in showing both the general public and local government officials what modern commuter rail service looks like and how it functions. He stated that the costs, performance, and feasibility of a modern commuter railroad service are considerably improved with respect to the characteristics of the Detroit-Pontiac service that was operated by the former Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority (SEMTA) until the autumn of 1983. “There simply is no comparison. Modern commuter railroad cars are more attractive, they are easier for members of the public to enter and exit, they are quieter, they are more reliable, they can be operated at higher speeds, and they are far less costly to operate than the trains that were used by SEMTA until 1983.”

DeLora further stated that a demonstration service between Detroit’s Amtrak station and Pontiac could be started immediately after the equipment is made available by Sound Transit and negotiations with the host railroad companies are completed. He stated that those negotiations in order to be successful need the combined support of Governor John Engler, Michigan Department of Transportation Director Gregory J. Rosine, Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, and General Motors Corporation. He further stated that service directly to Renaissance Center could begin after a two-month time period required for rehabilitation and reinstallation of a single-track railroad line located just east of the Chrysler Freeway from approximately East Warren Avenue to and beyond East Jefferson Avenue.

Although MARP and TRU agree that the equipment rental, trackwork reinstallation costs, and operating costs will cost several million dollars, Kendrick-Hands pointed out that the demonstration project would help in analyzing public response to a commuter rail service that can diminish the need for the following proposed freeway expansion projects:

MDOT’s proposed two-block $72 million extension of I-375 into the East Riverfront,
MDOT’s proposed $1.244 billion widening of the 6.7 mile segment of I-94 between the Jeffries Freeway and Conner Avenue in the City of Detroit, and
MDOT’s proposed $447 million widening of I-75 in Oakland County.
DeLora and Kendrick-Hands noted that General Motors has requested improved access to its new developments on the Riverfront and stated that MDOT should be examining commuter rail as a quick, effective, permanent, and non-disruptive remedy to solving GM’s present access problems and as a means for catalyzing new development and reducing the need for costly parking structures in the East Riverfront Area, in the balance of downtown Detroit, and in the older Wayne County and Oakland County suburbs along the railroad right of way. He added that implementation of any I-375 extension is at least three years after the date, possibly this fall, that MDOT receives approvals for the extension from the Federal Highway Administration.

DeLora and Kendrick-Hands also noted that the proposed demonstration should be used to transport members of the public who reside in Detroit and work in office complexes in Troy. They noted that the City of Troy already has set aside a 2.7 acre parcel of land along the Detroit-Pontiac railroad line to serve as a public transportation center. They concluded by stating that MDOT is the logical sponsor for the demonstration project, inasmuch as MDOT is the agency that has the resources to do the demonstration and inasmuch as MDOT has the most to gain by deferring or eliminating costly freeway expansions which MDOT is presently proposing.

MDOT and TRU are both non-profit Michigan corporations. MARP was founded in 1973 to advocate improved intercity and metropolitan rail passenger services. TRU was founded in 2000 to advocate for transportation access and mobility in Southeastern Michigan.

Organization 
Website 
Contact person 
Phone/email 

 MARP 
www.marp.org 
 John DeLora 
(313) 882-8132 marp@mich.com 

 TRU 
www.detroittransit.com 
Karen Kendrick-Hands 
(313) 885-7588 kdkhands@voyager.net 

BACKGROUND: The Detroit City Planning Commission, the Ferndale City Council, and the Birmingham City Commission in recent months all have passed resolutions tending to favor establishment of a modern Detroit Renaissance Center – Oakland County commuter rail service. For copies of the resolutions or equipment photos (.jpg format) contact BergmannDR@cs.com