Railroad improvements welcomed

Published 9:27 am Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Last year, more than half a million people took the Amtrak train that travels from Chicago to Detroit, a large portion of which began or ended their travels in Niles and Dowagiac.

Currently, the Wolverine line (which runs this route) stops at the train depots in Dowagiac and Niles as many as four times a day, helping passengers wishing to travel to Chicago or Detroit, but also to many other Michigan cities including Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Albion, Jackson, Dearborn, Royal Oak, Troy and Pontiac.

That’s a whole lot of people heading a whole lot of places, but there could be even more, especially if more people were aware of the benefits of train commutes.

Needless to say, passengers who take the train are able to get to point A to point B without driving, which offers a great opportunity especially in the winter months for people who do not like to travel long distances on icy roads. Even during good weather, though, train commuters save the wear and tear they put on their vehicles. They don’t have to put up with busy traffic in big cities like Chicago and Ann Arbor, and they don’t have to worry about filling up the tank.

Additionally, studies show that train commutes are greener than traveling by car, bus or airplane. They cut the travel time down significantly in some cases and allow commuters the chance to work or relax while they travel.

With all that said, there is plenty of room for improvement in the Wolverine line, and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers is seeking input from the public to implement those changes.

The organization works hard with Amtrak and other travel agencies to ensure that train passengers have the best possible experience. Two of the proposed improvements include speedier travel times and more frequent trips.

We encourage those who have taken the Wolverine line to attend the meeting at 7 p.m. tonight at the Niles District Library to share their experience. Those who opt not to take the train are also encouraged to attend the meeting to learn more about the opportunity and also offer reasons why they choose not to use the service.

We appreciate those responsible for hosting this meeting and continuing their efforts to offer a greener, safer method of long-distance travel in the Midwest.


Opinions expressed are those of the editorial board consisting of Publisher Michael Caldwell and editors Ambrosia Neldon, Craig Haupert, Ted Yoakum and Scott Novak.