Category Archives: Announcements

MARP Goals for 2007



1)     Maintain an effective and wide-reaching public education and outreach program during 2007 that includes at least the following levels of activity for the organization:

a)     Speaking engagements at five (5) public events

b)     Tabling at fifteen (15) public events

c)      Coverage in twelve (12) media stories

d)     Publish at least three (3) newsletters

e)     Maintain an updated web site


2)     Continue to educate public officials about the benefits of passenger rail through at least the following levels of activity:

a)     Education of potential coalition partners to interface directly with elected officials on the need for full passenger rail funding

b)     Implementation of applicable sections of NARP’s “Grass Routes Advocacy” program for state ARP’s


3)     Advocate for passengers’ needs with appropriate agencies and government entities with emphasis on improving on-time performance and on-board service quality, to include at a minimum:

a)     Quarterly meetings with Amtrak operations management

b)     Stakeholder participation in MDOT and SEMCOG transportation initiatives

c)      Communication with appropriate regulatory and elected officials


4)     Develop and implement the “Ride the Train Michigan” marketing program


5)     Implement the recommendations of the Route Enhancement Committee


6)     Increase member meeting attendance to an average of 17 individuals per meeting, and MARP membership to 450 memberships. Encourage life members to get more actively involved.


Approved by the MARP Executive Committee on January 13, 2007

MDOT’s Long Range Transportation Plan

MARP is an invited participant in the development of the Michigan Department of Transportation’s (MDOT) Long Range Transportation Plan through the year 2030. Chairman Mike Whims represents MARP at the stakeholder meetings. Clark Charnetski also attended an open house held recently in Ann Arbor.

A draft “Preferred Public Vision” has been published by MDOT that considers intercity passenger rail to be “important” and focuses on high-speed (200mph+) rail for the future. Chairman Whims testified at the meetings that the future plan needs to:

  • Focus more on “standard speed” intercity passenger rail that can at a minimum consistantly meet the current 79 mph speed limit without freight interference.
  • Consider “high-speed” rail as a goal to carefully work toward for certain high-volume corridors after solving the freight interference problems. A fear Whims expressed is that the price tag for 200+ mph rail service will frighten everyone away from ANY passenger rail.
  • Focus on increasing the share of freight movement by rail as a top public priority that will require public investment of some sort in the state’s privately-owned rail infrastructure.
  • Analyze the state’s 50,000-mile state highway system to see how many miles can be abandoned or transferred to local road authorities based on low relative usage. (this was very unpopular among the meeting stakeholders).

You are encouraged to voice your opinions at the state website that has been set up for this long range plan:

You are also encouraged to attend and represent MARP at the following upcoming public open house meetings (details at their website)
August 7-Novi
August 7-Kalamazoo
August 8- Warren
August 8- Grand Rapids
August 9- Lansing
August 9- Ann Arbor
August 14- Mount Pleasant
August 15- Tawas City
August 15- Kingsford
August 16- Traverse City
August 16- Ironwood
August 17- St. Ignace

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.


Important meeting location changes

A number of changes and updates have been made to the member meeting schedule since the Winter 2006 Michigan Passenger newsletter:

• The April 15, 2006 members meeting has been relocated to the Michigan Theatre; 124 North Mechanic Street, Jackson. The MARP Executive Committee changed the location because of availability of the facility.

• Please note that the May 20, 2006 meeting has been rescheduled to May 6, 2006. This date was changed from the date also originally published in the Winter 2006 newsletter.

• The September 23, 2006 Annual Meeting in Kalamazoo, Michigan will be at the following location: The Arcus Foundation (former Grand Rapids & Indiana (Pennsylvania Railroad) passenger station), 402 East Michigan, Kalamazoo.

• The location for the October 14, 2006 members meeting is the Community Action Agency of South Central Michigan at 175 Main Street, Battle Creek.

For more information, and a complete listing of upcoming meetings, check the MARP meeting page.


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