The letters of support keep coming in. City after city, from Ann Arbor to Petoskey, is making it clear to state and federal officials that they support passenger trains.
Dallas is big and it’s getting bigger. It’s one of the fastest growing areas of the country. In order to meet the growing demand for travel, Dallas has been building a fairly robust train network, and that striking boom in rail activity made it the perfect place to host the 21st annual Railvolution, a national conference on how to build modern cities around rapid transit.
Ten years ago, if you showed up at Michigan’s top transportation agency and asked for someone in the passenger rail department, you’d be greeted with a strange look, and probably hear something like, “We don’t do that here. Try Amtrak.” But things have changed. These days, not only does MDOT have staff working on passenger rail, they have a whole office dedicated to improving train service. In fact, freight and passenger trains are one of the state’s top priorities.
Hans Voss and Jim Bruckbauer recently traveled to Mt. Pleasant for a meeting with city staff and community leaders about the Ann Arbor to Traverse City passenger rail project. During our visit, one thing was made clear: Mt. Pleasant is ready for trains.
The work to bring passenger rail to Traverse City is off to a good start thanks to a quick crowdfunding effort that raised almost $19,000 in ten days.
Modern passenger rail service connecting Traverse City to Ann Arbor… it’s quite a vision. It would strengthen our regional economy and stimulate development along the route. It would take cars off the highways, with the environmental benefits of cleaner air and less fuel consumption. It would use an existing asset to offer a new transportation option for those of us who live in the Traverse City area and an appealing new way for visitors to come to our area. But what’s most exciting? It can be a reality, and it’s the Michigan Land Use Institute’s goal that within 10 years, regular passenger train service connects Traverse City and Ann Arbor.