Amtrack cuts could hurt Michigan

Published 3:55 pm Saturday, February 12, 2005

By Staff
HOLLAND - The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers (MARP) is "deeply concerned" about President George Bush's Fiscal 2006 budget proposal.
His administration proposes eliminating all funding for Amtrak, which would be detrimental to all Amtrak Michigan passenger rail services.
Amtrak currently serves three corridors in Michigan, which include Chicago to Detroit (Wolverine Services), Chicago to Port Huron (the Blue Water, which includes Dowagiac and Niles) and Chicago to Grand Rapids (the Pere Marquette), with a total of 10 daily trains.
Michigan currently funds operation of the Blue Water and the Pere Marquette, while Amtrak funds the Wolverine Service.
Should Congress approve zero funding for Amtrak, then it will be up to each state to foot the bill for all operating costs. Michigan, like many other states, is suffering from budget deficits and cannot afford to make up these costs.
John DeLora, MARP executive director, feels these proposed cuts make no sense when ridership is increasing on all Michigan Amtrak trains.
The loss of Amtrak trains could hit hard on college students traveling from cities like Ann Arbor, East Lansing or Kalamazoo, business travelers from the Detroit area and even weekend travelers going to Chicago from Grand Rapids.
The train provides the best access to downtown Chicago compared to air. Also, many travelers like to avoid the heavy traffic on the highways by riding the train.
Congestion is getting worse on many roads and airports like Chicago's O'Hare. Expanding Amtrak services and not eliminating it should be the goal of the Bush administration to improve overall mobility of the country.
The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is a non-profit corporation established in 1973 to improve passenger train service, travel conditions for passengers and to work for the preservation of historic rail stations.