Category Archives: Announcements

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

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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.

Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit rail link

The Toledo Metro Area Council of Governments and the Ohio Rail Development Commission rolled out the Ohio and Lake Erie Rail Hub Plan to the public beginning autumn 2004.

The proposal includes a plan to improve passenger rail between Southeast Michigan and Northern Ohio including the Detroit-Toledo-Cleveland corridor.

Other areas to be service by the proposed rail hub include Youngstown, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Cleveland, Erie, Buffalo, Niagara Falls, Toronto, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.

There were a series of hearings in late 2004 and early 2005.

For more information visit: OHIO & LAKE ERIE REGIONAL RAIL OHIO HUB STUDY WEBSITE or www.dot.state.oh.us/ohiorail. Call (419)241-9155.

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