Tag Archives: Pere Marquette

Grand Rapids (GRR)

431 Wealthy Street SW
near Market and Wealthy Streets SW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Grand Rapids Station (Photo by J.R. Valderas)

The unstaffed Grand Rapids station is at the corner of Market and Wealthy Streets. Although rather small, the station is in good shape and received a needed facelift just a few years ago. A lot of 45 free parking spaces are directly adjacent to the station. If needed, an overflow “long term” lot is located across the intersection of Market and Wealthy. The station lot regularly fills up on weekends, so be prepared to walk from the overflow lot during busy travel times. The area is safe, and you can leave your car here for an extended period without worry.

 A caretaker keeps the waiting room in excellent shape. Inside is a rack full of Amtrak schedules and travel information for passengers to peruse. The walls have several unique photos of trains in Grand Rapids during the first half of the 20th Century, and are worth a look. The waiting room does not have vending machines, and is only open for the morning and evening Pere Marquette’s. In a small adjoining room a Quik-Trak Self-Service Ticketing Kiosk has been installed by Amtrak; this room is accessible from the outside and is open throughout the day. Grand Rapids is one of the few stations in Michigan that have a platform canopy, to protect passengers from the wide variety of Michigan weather conditions encountered here.

Local public transit is provided by The Rapid, Grand Rapids’ bus line. For schedule information, call (616) 456-7514. Local taxi phone numbers are posted in the station. The station is separated from the downtown area by several blocks, but a short cab ride will get you to the center of downtown. Downtown Grand Rapids has developed a pretty good nightlife in recent years, and the area is currently seeing some significant growth. It is home to such cultural attractions as the Public Museum of Grand Rapids, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum.

A large crowd of spring break travelers prepare to board the Pere Marquette at the Grand Rapids Station on April 1, 2006. (Photo by Jim Hulsebus)

Amtrak station page:

Holland (HOM)

171 Lincoln Avenue
Holland, MI 49423

Passengers gather their belongings as Amtrak’s Pere Marquette arrives to the Padnos Transportation Center in Holland, Mich. on Jan. 23, 2005. (Photo by J.R. Valderas)

The unstaffed Holland station was extensively remodeled in the 1980’s, and turned a rather spartan station building into an exceptionally attractive facility. Located right at the entrance of Windmill Island Gardens, the station has 34 free parking spaces. The area is quite safe, and cars can be left for extended periods. The station serves Amtrak, Indian Trails intercity coach service and Macatawa Area Express (MAX) buses; the waiting room hours are from 7:00 AM to 10:00 PM Seven days a week.

The interior is attractive and comfortable, and a Quik-Trak Self-Service Ticketing Kiosk has been installed by Amtrak. The exterior has outstanding landscaping, and in good weather, the exterior walkways are so pleasant that many passengers prefer to wait outside. There are vending machines inside the station.

Macatawa Area Express (MAX) service is available for the morning train, but only Monday through Saturday. Call (616) 355-1010 for details.

Much of western Michigan’s Lower Peninsula was settled by the Dutch, and Dutch names are by far still the most prevalent in this area. Holland is the heart of Michigan’s Dutch country, and retains a distinctive Dutch flavor that goes well beyond the souvenir shops. Downtown Holland is a short walk from the station, and is sparkling clean, friendly and delightful. Be sure to visit Holland during its Tulip Time Festival, an annual event in May which draws visitors from all across the nation.

Amtrak station page:

Saint Joseph (SJM)

410 1/2 Vine Street
St. Joseph, MI 49085

The Amtrak platform is adjacent to the former station which has been converted into a restaurant. (Photo by J.R. Valderas)

The unstaffed 1913-built Saint Joseph station is a bit tricky to get to, but what other station in Michigan has a view of Lake Michigan? Be sure to access the station from Vine Street. The station facility is today primarily occupied by the Silver Beach Pizza restaurant. Specific parking for Amtrak passengers is indicated on parking lot signs behind the depot. In the spring of 2011, a new waiting room for Amtrak passengers was added at the north end of the building along the track side. This waiting room features wide windows looking out toward the lake and contains 12 seats along with a Quik-Trak ticketing machine. Be sure to access the Amtrak waiting room directly from the platform; there is no internal link between the restaurant and the waiting area. The area is safe, and cars can be left for days without worry. Food service is very limited on the Pere Marquette at the present time, so consider bringing some food along for your journey.

The former Pere Marquette station and train tracks are literally within sight of Lake Michigan and directly beside Silver Beach County Park. If the weather is nice, it’s worth it to come a few hours early to enjoy some time beside the lake. Downtown Saint Joseph is full of interesting and unique shops and restaurants. The community is delightful and features many activities and festivals, especially during the summer months.

Local transportation is provided by Twin Cities Area Transportation Authority. Days and hours of operation vary, so check ahead: (269) 927-2268.

The restaurant inside the Saint Joseph station. (Photo by J.R. Valderas)

Amtrak station page:

Amtrak Adjusts Schedule of Pere Marquette to Accommodate Track Work

Temporary Timings from June 4 to June 21

CHICAGO – Amtrak is temporarily adjusting the westbound schedule for the Pere Marquette service on the Chicago-Grand Rapids route to accommodate track work planned by CSX Transportation, the owner of the train’s route in Michigan. The temporary schedule will begin June 4 and continue through June 21, 2007.

The westbound Pere Marquette (Train 371) will be scheduled to operate one hour earlier from all stations. The eastbound Pere Marquette (Train 370) schedule is unaffected. These changes will compensate for anticipated delays due to the track work.

“While we recognize this temporary schedule change might cause some inconvenience for our passengers, they will eventually benefit from the track improvements with a smoother ride and improved reliability,” said Don Saunders, Amtrak Central Division General Superintendent.

Amtrak Pere Marquette ridership for the fiscal year-to-date (October 2006 through April 2007) was 56,827, an increase of 5.4 percent from the same period a year ago. The train often operates at full capacity, so passengers are reminded of the need to obtain reservations in advance from Amtrak.com, by calling 800-USA-RAIL, using a Quik-Trak(SM) Ticket Express automated ticket machine (including the Grand Rapids, Holland, Saint Joseph and Chicago stations) or through a travel agent.

The plans for this temporary schedule change are correct as of the above date. If these plans are changed, Amtrak will notify passengers who have included personal contact telephone numbers with their reservations.

The Pere Marquette is financed primarily through funds made available by the Michigan Department of Transportation and with the support of Westrain, a grass-roots group representing the communities along the corridor. For more information about Westrain, visit http://www.gvmc.org/transportation/Westrain.shtml.

About Amtrak

Amtrak provides intercity passenger rail services 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 Pere Marquette Temporary Schedule
Effective June 4-21, 2007

Train 370 – Chicago to Grand Rapids – Eastbound Pere Marquette

Station Daily
Chicago, IL – Union Station 5:20 p.m. CT (Depart)
New Buffalo, MI 7:35 p.m. ET (Depart)
St. Joseph – Benton Harbor, MI 8:03 p.m. ET (Depart)
Bangor, MI (South Haven) 8:39 p.m. ET (Depart)
Holland, MI 9:21 p.m. ET (Depart)
Grand Rapids, MI 10:20 p.m. ET (Arrive)

Train 371 – Grand Rapids to Chicago – Westbound Pere Marquette

Station Daily
Grand Rapids, MI 6:35 a.m. ET (Depart)
Holland, MI 7:21 a.m. ET (Depart)
Bangor, MI (South Haven) 8:02 a.m. ET (Depart)
St. Joseph – Benton Harbor, MI 8:39 a.m. ET (Depart)
New Buffalo, MI 9:06 a.m. ET (Depart)
Chicago, IL – Union Station 9:30 a.m. CT (Arrive)

This press release was provided by Amtrak and is available at www.amtrak.com

Full funding proposed for Michigan’s Amtrak services in 2006-07 budget

Full funding for Michigan’s Amtrak service (Pere Marquette and Bluewater trains) were included in the Governor’s budget for 2006-07 fiscal year and were introduced to the State House of Representative and the State Senate in February.

The Micigan Legislature cut funding for Amtrak’s Michigan service by $1 million in the 2005-06 budget.

HB 5737, introduced Feb. 21 by Rep. Rich Brown (D-Bessemer) and SB 1097, introduced Feb. 28 by Sen. Jim Barcia (D-Bay City) and Sen. Bob Emerson (D-Flint) both place the Governor’s Executive Budget on the floor. Her budget includes the full $7.1 million for Amtrak funding for 2006-07.

There appears to be no bill that reinstates the $1 million shortfall for passenger rail in the 2005-06 budget yet. The implications for an uninterupted passenger rail service schedule until the end of the budget year (Sept. 30) are unknown as of this date.