Category Archives: Press Releases


TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2011
Tim Fischer, Michigan Environmental Council, 734-255-9206
Megan Owens, Transportation Riders United: 248-259-2439
Dave Bulkowski, Disability Network/Michigan: 616-560-2293
Karen Kafantaris, AARP of Michigan: 517-267-8916

More than two-thirds in Metro Detroit have poor access to public transportation

Washington, D.C. and Lansing, MI – By 2015, more than 15.5 million Americans 65 and older – nearly a half-million of them in Metropolitan Detroit and hundreds of thousands in other regions of Michigan  – will live in communities where public transportation service is either poor or non-existent, a new study shows. That number is expected to continue to grow rapidly as the baby boom generation ages in suburbs and exurbs with few mobility options for those who do not drive.
The report, Aging in Place, Stuck without Options, ranks metro areas by the percentage of seniors with poor access to public transportation, now and in the coming years, and presents other data on aging and transportation.
It ranks Metro Detroit as tied for third from the bottom among major cities when judging seniors’ projected access to public transportation by the year 2015. An estimated 68 percent of Detroiters will have “poor” access, the report concludes. That ranks only ahead of Atlanta (90 percent) and Riverside-San Bernadino CA (69 percent).
“The bad news isn’t surprising – Detroit is near the bottom when it comes to providing transportation options to its residents, including senior citizens,” said Tim Fischer of the Michigan Environmental Council.
“The bad news isn’t surprising – Detroit is near the bottom when it comes to providing transportation options to its residents, including senior citizens,” said Tim Fischer of the Michigan Environmental Council. “The good news is that there is growing consensus on the tools we need to fix it. Light rail on Woodward in Detroit, consistent funding sources, consolidation of services, regional coordination and other improvements are getting closer to reality.”
Other Michigan regions and the percentages of seniors who will lack access to public transportation include: Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland (78 percent); Kalamazoo-Battle Creek (69 percent); and Lansing-East Lansing (60 percent).
“The baby boom generation grew up and reared their children in communities that, for the first time in human history, were built on the assumption that everyone would be able to drive an automobile,” said John Robert Smith, president and CEO of Reconnecting America and co-chair of Transportation for America. “What happens when people in this largest generation ever, with the longest predicted lifespan ever, outlive their ability to drive? That’s one of the questions we set out to answer in this report.”
Karen Kafantaris, AARP Michigan associate state director for livable communities, said: “As much as older Americans want to age comfortably in the homes and communities they love – and nine out of ten do – they fear being stuck at home when they don’t drive. But the suburbs and exurbs that will turn gray with the boomers in the next few decades are almost totally car dependent. The good news is that the range of public transportation services and improvements that aging boomers will need to get to the doctor, the grocery store and the movies will improve the quality of life for everyone.”
Kafantaris added the report indicates “this is the worst possible time” for Detroit City Council and other municipal governments to consider cutting transit funding.
“Communities like Detroit have an enormous challenge before us, but it’s also an opportunity,” said Richard Murphy of the Michigan Suburbs Alliance. “It’s true that many of our suburban neighborhoods were built without considering the needs of an aging population. But many of the steps we could take to fix that – improving public transportation service, retrofitting our streets to be safer for walking – will improve quality of life for the entire community.”
“The basic findings come as little surprise as the locally available options are already being rationed,” said David Bulkowski, of Disability Network/Michigan.  As the efforts to address this in our area progress, it is great to have a national framework to help show the widespread nature of the need and the many options available to address that need for seniors and persons with disabilities.”
The transportation issues of an aging America are national in scope, and cash-strapped state and local governments will be looking for federal support in meeting their needs. As Congress prepares this summer to adopt a new, long-term transportation authorization, Aging in Place, Stuck without Options outlines policies to help ensure that older Americans can remain mobile, active and independent, including:
  • Increase funding support for communities looking to improve service such as buses, trains, vanpools, paratransit and ridesharing;
  • Provide funding and incentives for transit operators, nonprofit organizations, and local communities to engage in innovative practices;
  • Encourage state departments of transportation, metropolitan planning organizations, and transit operators to involve seniors and the community stakeholders in developing plans for meeting the mobility needs of older adults;
  • Ensure that state departments of transportation retain their authority to “flex” a portion of highway funds for transit projects and programs;
  • Include a “complete streets” policy to ensure that streets and intersections around transit stops are safe and inviting for seniors.
“Today, about four in five seniors age 65 and older live in suburban or rural communities that are largely car-dependent,” said Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United. “Without access to affordable travel options, seniors age 65 and older who can no longer drive make 15 percent fewer trips to the doctor, 59 percent fewer trips to shop or eat out and 65 percent fewer trips to visit friends and family, than drivers of the same age. Also, as the cost of owning and fueling a vehicle rises, many older Americans on a fixed income are looking for lower-cost options.”
To view the full report and see the extended rankings, please click:

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Announces $2 Billion for High-Speed Intercity Rail Projects to Grow Jobs, Boost U.S. Manufacturing and Transform Travel in America

Unprecedented Investment in the Northeast Corridor, Expanded Service in the Midwest and New, State-of-the-Art Rail Equipment Top List of Rail Dollar

From a U.S. Department of Transporation press release

WASHINGTON – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today announced $2 billion in high-speed rail awards providing an unprecedented investment to speed up trains in the Northeast Corridor, expand service in the Midwest and provide new, state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars as part of the Administration’s plan to transform travel in America.

Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications, competing to be part of an historic investment that will create tens of thousands of jobs, improve mobility and stimulate American manufacturing.

“Earlier this year, President Obama and I made a commitment to improve and expand America’s transportation system, including the development of a modern, national high-speed rail network,” said Vice President Biden. “And today, we’re announcing investments that will continue our progress toward making this vision a reality. These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and railcars.”

“President Obama and Vice President Biden’s vision for a national rail system will help ensure America is equipped to win the future with the fastest, safest and most efficient transportation network in the world,” said Secretary LaHood. “The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities.”

Broadcast quality video and audio of Secretary LaHood discussing today’s high-speed rail announcement is available for download via the following links:



The Department’s Federal Railroad Administration selected 15 states and Amtrak to receive $2.02 billion for 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects as part of a nationwide network that will connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail in 25 years. The dedicated rail dollars will:

  • Make an unprecedented investment in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), with $795 million to upgrade some of the most heavily-used sections of the corridor. The investments will increase speeds from 135 to 160 miles per hour on critical segments, improve on-time performance and add more seats for passengers.
  • Provide $404.1 million to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest. Newly constructed segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago will save passengers 30 minutes in travel time and create nearly 1,000 new jobs in the construction phase. Upgrades to the Chicago to St. Louis corridor will shave time off the trip, enhance safety and improve ridership.
  • Boost U.S. manufacturing through a $336.2 million investment in state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest. “Next Generation” rail equipment will deliver safe, reliable and high-tech American-built vehicles for passenger travel.
  • Continue laying the groundwork for the nation’s first 220-mph high-speed rail system in California through a $300 million investment, extending the current 110 mile segment an additional 20 miles to advance completion of the Central Valley project, the backbone of the Los Angeles to San Francisco corridor.

Nearly 100 percent of the $2.02 billion announced today will go directly to construction of rail projects, bringing expanded and improved high-speed intercity passenger rail service to cities in all parts of the country. Thirty-two states across the U.S. and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high-speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy-efficient travel options.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) and annual appropriations have, to date, provided $10.1 billion to put America on track towards providing rail access to new communities and improving the reliability, speed and frequency of existing lines. Of that, approximately $5.8 billion dollars has already been obligated for rail projects.

A strict “Buy America” requirement for high-speed rail projects ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. In 2009, Secretary LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the U.S. if they are selected for high-speed-rail contracts.

Rail project highlights include:


Amtrak – NEC Power, Signal, Track, Catenary Improvements – $450 million to boost capacity, reliability, and speed in one of the most heavily-traveled sections of the Northeast Corridor, creating a 24-mile segment of track capable of supporting train speeds up to 160-mph.

Maryland – NEC Bridge Replacement – $22 million for engineering and environmental work to replace the century-old Susquehanna River Bridge, which currently causes frequent delays for commuters due to the high volume of critical maintenance.

New York – NEC Harold Interlocking Amtrak Bypass Routes – $295 million to alleviate major delays for trains coming in and out of Manhattan with new routes that allow Amtrak trains to bypass the busiest passenger rail junction in the nation.

Rhode Island – NEC Kingston Track, Platform Improvements – $25 million for design and construction of an additional 1.5 miles of third track in Kingston, RI, so high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 150-mph can pass trains on a high-volume section of the Northeast Corridor.

Rhode Island – NEC Providence Station Improvements – $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work to renovate the Providence Station. These upgrades will enhance the passenger experience, keep the station in good working order and improve transit and pedestrian connectivity.


Connecticut – New Haven to Springfield Track Construction – $30 million to complete double-track segments on the corridor, bringing added intercity rail service to a route that plays an important role in the region, connecting communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts to the NEC, as well as Vermont.

Massachusetts/Maine – Downeaster Track Improvements – $20.8 million to construct a 10.4-mile section of double track between Wilmington and Andover, MA. Track upgrades will increase schedule performance and dependability for passengers traveling on the Northern New England Downeaster corridor.

New York – Empire Corridor Capacity Improvements – $58 million to construct upgrades to tracks, stations and signals, improving rail operations along the Empire Corridor. This includes replacement of the Schenectady Station and construction of a fourth station track at the Albany – Rensselaer Station, one of the corridor’s most significant bottlenecks.

New York – Rochester Station and Track Improvements – $1.4 million for a preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for a new Rochester Intermodal Station on the Empire Corridor, connecting passengers with additional transit and pedestrian options.


Pennsylvania – Keystone Corridor Interlocking Improvements – $40 million to rebuild an interlocking near Harrisburg on the Keystone Corridor, saving travelers time and improving passenger train schedule reliability.


Next Generation Passenger Rail Equipment Purchase – This state-of-the-art rail equipment will provide safe and reliable American-built vehicles for passenger travel, while boosting the U.S. manufacturing industry.

  • Midwest Corridors – $268.2 million to purchase 48 high-performance passenger rail cars and 7 quick-acceleration locomotives for 8 corridors in the Midwestern States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri.
  • California Corridors – $68 million to acquire 15 high-performance passenger rail cars and 4 quick-acceleration locomotives for the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, and Capitol Corridors in California.


Illinois – Chicago – St. Louis Corridor – $186.3 million to construct upgrades on the Chicago – St. Louis Corridor between Dwight and Joliet, IL with trains operating at 110 mph for more than 220 miles of track. This investment will reduce trip times, enhance safety and add more seats on the corridor, increasing the number of people who can conveniently travel by train.

Michigan – Kalamazoo-Dearborn Service Development – $196.5 million to rehabilitate track and signal systems, bringing trains up to speeds of 110 mph on a 235-mile section of the Chicago to Detroit corridor, reducing trip times by 30 minutes.

Michigan – Ann Arbor Station Project – $2.8 million for an engineering and environmental analysis to construct a new high-speed rail station in Ann Arbor, MI, that will better serve passengers and allow more than one train to serve the station simultaneously.

Minnesota – Northern Lights Express – $5 million to complete engineering and environmental work for establishing the Northern Lights Express – a high-speed intercity passenger service – connecting Minneapolis to Duluth, with 110-mph high-speed rail service.

Missouri – Merchant’s Bridge Replacement – $13.5 million to advance the design of a new bridge over the Mississippi River on the Chicago to St. Louis Corridor, replacing a bridge built in the 1890s.


North Carolina – Charlotte to Richmond Service Enhancement – $4 million for environmental analysis on the Richmond to Raleigh section of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor (SEHSR). This advances the goal of extending high-speed rail service on the NEC into the southeast, with 110-mph capable service.

Texas – Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston Core Express Service – $15 million for engineering and environmental work to develop a high-speed rail corridor linking two of the largest metro areas in the U.S., Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston.


California – Central Valley Construction Project Extension – $300 million for a 20-mile extension along the Central Valley Corridor. This will continue to advance one of the highest priority projects in the nation that will ultimately provide 220 mph high-speed rail service from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The work funded in this round will extend the track and civil work from Fresno to the “Wye” junction, which will provide a connection to San Jose to the West and Merced to the North.

Oregon – Eugene Station Stub Tracks – $1.5 million for analysis of overnight parking tracks for passenger trains on the southern end of the Pacific Northwest Corridor, adding new capacity for increased passenger and freight rail service.

Washington – Port of Vancouver Grade Separation – $15 million to eliminate a congested intersection and bottleneck between freight and passenger tracks. By elevating one set of tracks over the other, travel along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor will experience reduced delays and passenger trains will not have to wait for crossing freight traffic.


Moving Michigan forward

New transportation coalition, unprecedented in breadth, kicks off campaign to boost communities, economies with connected, convenient choices

April 7, 2011

Tim Fischer, MEC:  734-255-9206
Arnold Weinfeld, MML: 517-230-8071
Rick Chapla, Right Place: 616-443-6053

Making Michigan’s towns and economies more robust through transportation policy reform and smart investments in roads and bridges is the ambition behind Transportation For Michigan (Trans4M). The new coalition was announced today during a statewide telephone press conference.

 “This coalition is dedicated to establishing public policies that enable more frequent, reliable and affordable transportation options and smart, effective prioritization of upkeep for our existing roads and bridges,” said Dan Gilmartin, executive director of the Michigan Municipal League.  “To be competitive, Michigan must recognize the vital role that these services play in our economy and our quality of life.”

The broad-based Trans4M coalition partners include nonprofits, businesses, policy makers, environmental groups, planners, academic institutions and others.  It comes at a crucial time for Michigan as the state retools its beleaguered economy in the midst of rising gasoline prices and declining revenue for road repairs and improvements.

“Now more than ever we have to be strategic and smart with every dollar we invest,” said Rich Studley, chief executive officer of the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “Maintaining our current roads and bridges, and providing options for people who want to become less dependent on gasoline and personal vehicles are key strategic goals for our state.”

Surveys consistently show that having reliable, affordable transportation options is a key factor in attracting and retaining jobs and talent. More than three-quarters of New Economy companies rated access to efficient public transportation as an extremely important factor in selecting corporate locations according to a recent survey by Jones Lang LaSalle, a financial and professional services company.

“Becoming more diverse, more flexible and more resilient in our economic foundation and in our transportation options is essential if we are to compete for future jobs and prosperity,” said Gilmartin. “Connecting our communities to each other, and workers to jobs, is both an economic and quality of life imperative.”

Transportation for Michigan intends to work with local, regional, state and federal decision makers to create strong transportation systems that will energize the state’s economic recovery. Priorities may include:

  • Supporting adequate and targeted investments in the state’s existing roads and bridges
  • Supporting Gov. Rick Snyder’s transportation budget recommendations for the Comprehensive Transportation Fund
  • Securing state legislative approval for matching funds that will leverage $161 million in federal dollars for high speed passenger rail projects along the Detroit-Chicago corridor
  • Creating regional transportation authorities to connect people and communities with multiple travel options

Chris Kolb, president of the Michigan Environmental Council, said the coalition’s goals make both economic and environmental sense.

“Moving people more efficiently reduces our dependency on fossil fuels and lessens the public health impacts caused by their emissions,” said Kolb. “Smarter transportation options mean more vibrant, more livable, healthier communities and a stronger economy.”

Trans4M will be adding organizations to its membership roll in coming months. Current members include:  Community Economic Development Association of Michigan,  Detroit Branch NAACP,  Disability Advocates of Kent County, Gamaliel of Michigan,  Land Information Access Association, Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength, Michigan Association of Planning, Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, Michigan Chamber of Commerce, Michigan Environmental Council, Michigan Fitness Foundation, Michigan Land Use Institute, Michigan Municipal League, Michigan Suburbs Alliance, The Right Place, Inc.,  Transportation Riders United


Indian Trails extends service in Flint, Chicago




Indian Trails extends service to Bishop International Airport, Union Station Chicago

OWOSSO, MI – Indian Trails’ motorcoach service throughout Michigan and the near Midwest has been expanded to two new locations: Flint’s Bishop International Airport and Union Station Chicago.

Beginning April 4, 2011, four daily trips will be made between Flint’s Bishop International Airport and points north (Saginaw, Bay City, Alpena, the Upper Peninsula) and west (Owosso, Lansing, Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo, etc.).

Coaches will arrive at Bishop at 10:45 a.m. and 3 p.m. from the west and at 1:30 and 4 p.m. from points north.

Coaches depart to points west of Flint at 10:45 a.m., 1:30 and 4 p.m. – and to points north at 3 p.m. daily.

Coaches will depart and arrive at the east end of the terminal, from the MTA bus stop.

“This extension of service expands area access to Bishop International Airport, providing connectivity from rural areas to a major air hub,” says Gordon Mackay, president of Indian Trails. “Using a motorcoach to reach the airport also reduces energy consumption and hydrocarbon pollution. It’s a win-win.”

Airlines available at Bishop are Air Tran, American, Continental Connection and Frontier.

Also beginning April 4, 2011, all Indian Trails arrivals to Chicago will offer service to Union Station Chicago.

Coaches will arrive at Union Station at 2:25, 5:50, 8:35 and 11:15 p.m. CT daily, delivering passengers to the east side of Canal St., 300 feet south of Jackson Blvd.

Connections will be available to Amtrak service (to Milwaukee, St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis and New Orleans), to MetraRail commuter trains throughout the Chicago suburban area, and to CTA trains to O’Hare and local points within the city.

More local service information is available at and at

Indian Trails, Inc. operates one of the largest and newest fleets of deluxe motor coaches in Michigan.

Services include charters, tours, shuttles, airport transfers, casino runs and daily scheduled routes throughout Michigan and into Chicago as well as Milwaukee.

The Michigan Flyer Motorcoach Service offers seamless connections and affordable service to Detroit Metro Airport from Lansing, Jackson, Ann Arbor, and Detroit.


Amtrak marks 16 straight months of ridership growth

Increasing gasoline prices contribute to record February

From an Amtrak press release

WASHINGTON – February marked 16 consecutive months of Amtrak ridership growth and was the best February on record with 2,099,010 passengers.

“The ridership increase shows the continued popularity of rail travel and the need for continued investment in passenger rail service,” said Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman.  “We anticipate demand for rail travel will increase with the rise of gasoline prices, and Amtrak is prepared to be there for passengers who want to leave the car behind.”

This strong performance is part of a long-term trend that has seen America’s Railroad set annual ridership records in seven of the last eight fiscal years, including more than 28.7 million passengers in FY 2010. 

Specifically, there was a 7.6 percent increase in riders in February 2011 vs. February 2010, or more than 147,000 passengers.  The 16 straight months of ridership growth spans from November 2009 to February 2011 and averages a 6 percent growth rate over this period.

Factors that are contributing to the success of Amtrak include a moderately improved economic environment allowing some recovery of business travel along the Northeast Corridor, sustained high gasoline prices, the increased appeal and popularity of rail travel, effective marketing campaigns, and the introduction of Wi-Fi on the high-speed Acela Express trains.  

The highlights below compare the first five months of current FY 2011 (October 2010-February 2011) to the same period during FY 2010 and show increased Amtrak ridership across the country from coast to coast.

East Highlights
The high-speed Acela Express service continued its popularity with a ridership increase of 9.7 percent in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor.  Amtrak’s state supported Adirondack Service (New York City-Montreal) saw a 9.3 percent hike and the Piedmont service (Charlotte-Raleigh) experienced a significant gain of 101.8 percent following the introduction of an additional round-trip frequency last summer.  In addition, Virginia routes had sizable gains with Washington-Lynchburg at 28 percent and Washington-Newport News at 16.8 percent.

Central Highlights
The Chicago hub experienced steep ridership gains as led by the Blue Water (Chicago-Port Huron) at 26.4 percent.  In addition, the Chicago-Pontiac Wolverine Service was up 18.1 percent, the Chicago-Carbondale corridor up 16 percent, and the Chicago-St. Louis corridor was up eight percent.  Also, the Missouri River Runner (Kansas City-St. Louis) experienced a 14.6 percent gain and the Heartland Flyer (Oklahoma City-Ft. Worth) was up 8.8 percent.

West Highlights
In California, routes experienced gains including the Capitol Corridor service (San Jose-Auburn) with 8.4 percent and the Pacific Surfliner service (San Luis Obispo-San Diego) with 6.1 percent growth.

National Highlights
Among the long-distance Amtrak trains, the Cardinal (New York-Chicago) had the largest increase of 17.1 percent.  Other long-distance trains with strong gains were the Palmetto (New York-Savannah) at 16.6 percent, the Sunset Limited (New Orleans-Los Angeles) at 12.6 percent, the City of New Orleans (Chicago-New Orleans) at 10.9 percent, and the Lake Shore Limited (New York-Chicago) at 10.6 percent.

About Amtrak®:
Amtrak is America’s Railroad, the nation’s intercity passenger rail provider and its only high-speed rail operator.  A record 28.7 million passengers traveled on Amtrak in FY 2010 on more than 300 daily trains – at speeds up to 150 mph (241 kph) – that connect 46 states, the District of Columbia and three Canadian Provinces.  Amtrak operates trains in partnership with 15 states and four commuter rail agencies.  Amtrak also is a strong financial performer achieving an 85 percent cost-recovery ratio in FY 2010.  Enjoy the journey at or call 800-USA-RAIL for schedules, fares and more information.  Join us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter at