Tag Archives: funding

Town Hall Meeting on Amtrak Funding

Please join State Representative John Espinoza, 83rd District and other Amtrak supporters and guests panelists.

WHAT: Discussion on Amtrak’s funding and opposition to proposed cuts to the passenger rail service and how it affects you.

WHEN: Thursday, June 30, 2005 at 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: St. Clair County Community College
Room 150, Citizens First M-TEC Center
Corner of Glenwood and Erie Streets (Downtown Port Huron)


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




June 21, 2005  

Mike Whims, President, MARP: mwhims@detroittransit.org; 248-892-4545
Ed McArdle, SEMG Sierra Club: ecoed@netzero.net; 313-388-6645
John Langdon, Chair, SWM Chapter MARP: john-langdon@sbcglobal.net, 616-218-9009
Kay Chase, Chair, Kalamazoo Environmental Council: chase@wmich.edu 269-387-5237

Please include in local announcements and calendars.

On Saturday, June 25, there will be a press conference and rally to call attention to state and federal budget cuts that threaten the passenger trains that serve Michigan. A pending cut of $1 million from Michigan’s next fiscal year budget could end the Port Huron – Kalamazoo – Chicago Blue Water train and the Grand Rapids – St Joseph – Chicago – Pere Marquette train. In Congress, the budget recommendation from the transportation committee headed by Michigan’s Rep. Joe Knollenberg would severely impact service on the Wolverine trains that serves the Detroit – Kalamazoo – Chicago corridor.

Organizers invite the community to show their support by joining them at the Kalamazoo Intermodal Center, 459 N. Burdick, to greet train Number 353 when it arrives from the east at approximately 2:50 p.m. on Saturday. Local lawmakers have been invited to attend, as have representatives of Metro Transit, the Chamber of Commerce, the United Transportation Union, and the Convention & Visitors Bureau.

On board the train will be members of Sierra Club’s southeast Michigan group (SEMG), the Michigan Association of Rail Passengers (MARP) and Transit Riders United of Detroit (TRU). The groups will rally earlier in Pontiac and Ann Arbor to “Stop the Great Train Robbery!” Along the way they have distributed information and talked to fellow passengers about the importance of letting decision makers know that train travel is an option people want and need. The group will be joined in Kalamazoo by members of local Sierra Club, the Southwest Region Chapter-Michigan Association of Rail Passengers, the Kalamazoo Environmental Council, and Transportation Action Strategy for Kalamazoo.

“There has been great support for passenger rail by our local leaders,” said Kay Chase, MARP member and frequent train passenger, “and they need to know that we are behind them. Senator George just last week was on the losing side of an effort to restore the $1 million that is crucial to continued operation of the Blue Water train. And in Washington, Congressman Fred Upton has been a strong advocate for our Michigan trains.”

According to Amtrak’s latest ridership reports, Michigan ridership is up 12.8% from last year, serving over 600,000 passengers in 2004. Kalamazoo has the 2nd highest ridership in the state-over 75,000 per year. During the first eight months of the current fiscal year, the Blue Water line, which serves the Port Huron-Kalamazoo-Chicago corridor, experienced a 20.4% ridership gain. Amtrak employs 133 Michigan state residents earning $6.4 million annually in wages and salaries. Their paychecks support local economies across the state. A recent economic impact study found that 60 Michigan vendors have contracts with Amtrak worth $2.8 million per year. Train travel reduces dependence on foreign oil and lessens the impact on global warming. Intercity trains emit up to three times less pollution per passenger mile than automobiles and six times less than airplanes. People are finding train travel to be convenient and cost-effective as airline security becomes more intrusive and highways become more congested.

For more information on the Michigan Association of Rail Passengers, visit www.marp.org






June 8, 2005

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

Michigan House Bill 4831, that proposes to cut $1 million from the fiscal year 2006 passenger rail budget, is threatening Amtrak services in Michigan. If approved, this massive reduction could end the Port Huron – East Lansing- Chicago Blue Water and the Grand Rapids – Holland – Chicago Pere Marquette.

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.

“This makes no sense to cut funding for these trains,” said John DeLora, MARP executive director. “Both trains are performing very well and Michigan travelers want the service.”

The threat to the two Michigan Amtrak trains comes at a bad time for Amtrak as the Bush Administration has proposed to eliminate the funding nationally. The Bush Administration wants to “reform” Amtrak by eliminating federal operational funding and have each state be fiscally responsible for intercity passenger rail services should they desire to keep trains running through their respective states.

“Obviously having the states foot the bill for passenger rail will not work.” Mike Whims, MARP Chairman, stated. “If we are fighting over a million dollars out of a multi-billion dollar state transportation budget to keep the Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains running, what will it be like to get the state to fund the Chicago – Detroit – Pontiac trains that are now funded nationally? It’s a plan for disaster.”

Cutting $1 million from Amtrak’s budget forces both the Blue Water and Pere Marquette to be eliminated under the current contract with the state. Plus, there is no fair procedure to determine which train to eliminate especially since both trains are performing so well.

Last month, chambers of commerce and convention bureaus from cities along Michigan Amtrak routes, went to Chicago aboard Amtrak to promote tourism to Michigan. Having Amtrak service in Michigan offers important transportation access especially in times of high gas prices, gridlock on highways, and security delays at airports.

The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is a 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 John DeLora at (313) 575-6608 or Mike Whims (248) 892-4545 or visit MARP’s website at http://www.marp.org.


Threatened end to Blue Water and Pere Marquette

State Representative Shelley Taub (R-Bloomfield Hills), who sits as chair of the Transportation subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee has announced her intention to propose a $1 million cut in state funding of the Blue Water and Pere Marquette trains. This will be fast-tracked in budget session June 7, 8 and 9.

MDOT has stated that if this occurs, the $7.1 million requirement to operate the trains cannot be met, and both trains will be eliminated. This is because one contract with Amtrak covers operation of both trains, and there is no fair process to determine which train should be eliminated. The remainder of funds, $6.1 million, would be utilized on other rail needs in the state.

Please let your local legislators know your concern about the proposal to eliminate Blue Water and Pere Marquette train service. If this proposal is adopted by the House Appropriations Committee as part of its State Budget, the Senate is likely to go along with it. It is important to email or call your local State Representative and Senator.

Ridership on the Blue Water has increased 21% year to date April 30,2005 compared to the same period last year. The Pere Marqutee has seen an 11% increase. Michigan residents are continuing to discover the practical, financial and safety benefits of riding the train.

Please take a few minutes to call or email your State representatives now. Leaving a message on their office voice mail is effective. Remember to provide your name and address.

Use MARP’s political contact web page to look up your representative’s or sentator’s contact information. Remember the $1 million reduction is proposed by the Michigan Legislature. Contact your U.S. representative or senator about proposed federal reductions in Amtrak’s budget.

Additional key elected officials to contact are:

  • Rep. Shelley Taub
    517-373-8670 (ph)
    517-373-5868 (fax)
  • Rep. Scott Hummel
    517-373-1778 (ph)
    517-373-5780 (fax)
  • Rep. Gretchen Whitmer
    517-373-1786 (ph)
    517-373-5717 (fax)



    Please pass this information along to others as soon as possible.



  • Sen. Shirley Johnson
    517-373-2523 (ph)
    517-373-5669 (fax)
  • Sen. Michael Prusi
    517-373-7840 (ph)
    517-373-3932 (fax)