Southeast Michigan RTA wants Detroit-Ann Arbor commuter rail service

May 20, 2016

By Leonard N. Fleming, The Detroit News

The Regional Transit Authority wants to give life to a long-stalled Ann Arbor to Detroit commuter rail line that would connect the cities’ downtowns.Website Insert Passenger Trains Very Well copy

The 38-mile line has been discussed for more than a decade but was in need of a funding source. The RTA plans to solve that issue by folding the cost of the service, which would use existing Amtrak lines, into its November millage request.

The proposed service was approved Thursday by the RTA board as part of its Michigan Avenue corridor study, which also includes bus rapid transit. The rail line also will provide access to the upcoming QLine — also known as the M-1 Rail line — running through the heart of Detroit as well as other transit services, including possible shuttles to Detroit Metropolitan Airport.

If the millage passes this fall, RTA officials estimate the route could start around 2022, with annual operating costs between $11 million to $19 million. It would cost around $130 million in capital costs to get the service up and running and build a maintenance facility, much cheaper than starting from scratch, officials said.

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