Category Archives: Announcements

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.


Michael J. Whims
Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers

Moving from Vision to Action – TRU annual meeting Tuesday evening

January 24, 2006


You’re invited!

Please join Transportation Riders United’s 2006 Annual Meeting, Moving from Vision to Action!

It will be held next Tuesday, Jan. 24 at 6:30pm in downtown Detroit’s Guardian Building (500 Griswold).

Come learn about exciting transit initiatives such as the Ann Arbor to Detroit Rapid Transit project and ways you can get involved to help achieve the regional transit vision for greater Detroit.

Contact TRU at 313-863-8872 or for more information.


Transportation Riders United is a non-profit organization focused on improving transportation access and mobility in Greater Detroit. We strive to improve the quality of existing transit service and to facilitate the creation of a quality regional rapid transit system, through research, public education, coalition building and public involvement.

TRU is growing, and we want you to get involved!

Our 2005 Annual Meeting was primarily focused on creating a positive vision of the future of the region, “Detroit 2030: An Agenda for a Sustainable Metropolis.”

This year, we’re focused on Moving from Vision to Action.

We will discuss two exciting transit initiatives – the Ann Arbor to Detroit Rapid Transit project and the Woodward Corridor transit project. This spring will be a critical time for public input into the design of the AA-Detroit project. We will have regional leaders and experts from DARTA, the University of Michigan and elsewhere present on the opportunity that these projects represent for the entire region.

We will also discuss TRU’s plans for the coming year and the many ways you can get involved, including:
– Improving existing bus service and ridership,
– Promoting the new transit initiatives,
– Researching the policy changes at the regional and state level for a regional transit system,
– Improving TRU’s capabilities through fundraising and membership building,
– Changing public perception of transit through effective marketing of transit, and
– Building the broad coalition of support needed to achieve a regional transit system.

The meeting will be next Tuesday, January 24 at 6:30pm in downtown Detroit’s Guardian Building (500 Griswold).

Contact the TRU office at 313-963-8872 or

Hope to see you there!



Megan Owens

Executive Director, Transportation Riders United

500 Griswold, Suite 1650
Detroit, Michigan 48226
Phone: 313-963-8872
Fax: 313-963-8876

Our mission is to improve transportation access and mobility in Greater Detroit.




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:

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


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.


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)