West Michigan groups spend $10K for study of Grand Rapids to Detroit passenger rail service

March 19, 2015

Andrew Krietz | akrietz@mlive.com By Andrew Krietz | akrietz@mlive.com The Grand Rapids Press

on March 19, 2015 at 1:50 PM, updated March 19, 2015 at 2:05 PM
GRAND RAPIDS, MI — Several local organizations have pledged support for a study, which begins today, to examine the possibility of a West Michigan to Detroit-area passenger rail line.

The Holland Visitors Bureau, Michigan West Coast Chamber of Commerce, Macatawa Area Coordinating Council and Experience Grand Rapids each made a contribution totaling about $10,000 to fund a ridership and cost estimate study that could lead to actual service several years from now, project manager Liz Treutel said.

Treutel, who heads the study for the nonprofit Michigan Environmental Council, explains the seven-month project will examine ridership demand between the Holland, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit corridor to better understand the impacts of establishing coast-to-coast rail service.

The Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority’s governing board, handling the study’s procurement, voted in late February to authorize entering into a $100,000 contract with Transportation Economics and Management System, or TEMS.

$80,000 was sourced from federal grant dollars, while the remaining $20,000 came from local match contributors, like West Michigan and other locations along the corridor, Treutel said.

For those Grand Rapidians looking to hop aboard a train to Detroit in the near future, a car still is the best choice.

“It’s not a full-blown study,” Treutel explained. “The two main components are ridership analysis — are there enough people to take the service, how much are they willing to pay, where will they go?

“The second component is looking at economic feasibility — are there riders, if there is, is this the kind of service that is economically viable and provides benefits for communities?”

Some might recall a time when passenger rail service existed along the line before 1971. The state was left with three Amtrak lines that exist today, Treutel said.

The Michigan Department of Transportation reports its rail ridership has grown from 568,555 passengers in 2004 to 777,463 riders in 2014. Its best year was in 2013 with more than 795,000 passengers.

 

Read the full story at MLive online.

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