There’s widespread interest in establishing passenger rail service to northwest Michigan. It would provide much needed transportation options for travelers—including the roughly 90,000 students along the line, boost downtown economies, and solidify Michigan as a leader in a new era of travel. Revitalizing train service between Traverse City and Ann Arbor is a unique opportunity for Michigan because the state owns the tracks, much of the line is in good shape, and there's already tremendous public support. Groundwork has received dozens of support letters from communities and civic groups along the line, and we’ve raised funds to advance a major study on the project, a study that was released in 2018. Preliminary cost and market data look promising, and we were excited to share it with the public. Please take a few minutes to learn more about the Ann Arbor to Traverse City railroad in the video and full report download, also check out A2TC.org.
— Jim Bruckbauer, deputy director
Click on the image on the right to see a summary and full report of the Northern Michigan Rail Ridership Feasibility and Cost Estimate Study, the first major step to developing passenger rail service along the 240-mile-long corridor.
The findings look good: Passenger trains between Ann Arbor and Traverse City would attract 1.5 million riders a year and generate $100 million in annual revenue by 2040 according to the consultants.
The 10-month study explored track repair, operating costs and potential revenue of a passenger rail line along an existing, mostly state-owned railroad corridor between Ann Arbor and the Traverse City and Petoskey regions. It outlines several operating speeds, costs and potential ridership associated with each option.
For the full report, click here.
Re-establishing passenger rail service between Ann Arbor, Petoskey, and Traverse City—cities with expanding technology industries—will link the growing northwest with population centers in the southeast and universities along the rail route. Civic and business leaders believe this effort will help our state attract the next generation workforce that wants to live and thrive in Michigan without depending on a car.
College students, business leaders, tech entrepreneurs, young families, tourists and retirees—they'll all benefit from passenger rail between Traverse City, Petoskey and Ann Arbor. People like Andrew Vriesman, a 22-year-old senior at Central Michigan University and a rail enthusiast. Vriesman studies logistics and marketing at CMU and hopes to land a job in southeast Michigan next year. He would travel to upcoming job interviews via train if he could. Passenger rail through Mt. Pleasant would also make it easier for many college students to travel home during semester breaks or visit friends in Ann Arbor or Traverse City. Train service would be a major boost for Central Michigan, for Mt. Pleasant, and for the state as a whole.
Groundwork believes that bringing passenger rail service back to northern Michigan is possible in less than a decade with a focused campaign of public engagement, technical analysis, and support from community, state and federal agencies.
Groundwork is working with its transportation partners, including the Michigan Department of Transportation, on a 2018 feasibility study to raise awareness about the project, better understand track conditions and safety improvements required, and the interaction between the communities along the line.
Why TC to Ann Arbor?
EXISTING INFRASTRUCTURE: The tracks are still in place, they’re still owned by the state, and they’re in good shape. Often the most expensive part of a transportation project is the cost of buying land and laying new tracks.
WIDESPREAD SUPPORT: There’s tremendous public support and enthusiasm for trains to Traverse City. The number one priority that came out of a statewide rail planning process in 2011 was a passenger connection to Traverse City. That support was again on display when Groundwork held a series of public forums along the route to review the 2018 feasibility report.
STATEWIDE PRIORITY: A passenger rail line to northern Michigan was included as a goal in Michigan’s State Rail Plan.