Discuss Detroit Ľ Archives - January 2008 Ľ Michigan Central train station via Youtube. ę Previous Next Ľ
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Dove7
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Username: Dove7

Post Number: 2038
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 8:26 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

1987.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v =sbtyUsnrY2I
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 535
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 9:15 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

This is how I remember it, in this video. On the last month of service, my dad took me to it and we went to Ann Arbor for a weekend trip and back via train. He told me to remember these trips because one day this great building, that he remembers many of the happy moments in his life (coming back from the Army or other parts of the country when he was younger, etc), will be gone.

To him, that station meant he was home.

I am almost driven to tears whenever I see it in the condition it's in, especially the pictures of the interior people sometimes post on here. How anyone could let that piece of history and grandeur rot is beyond me.
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Kathinozarks
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Username: Kathinozarks

Post Number: 1097
Registered: 11-2006
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 9:19 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

If I was the Mayor of Detroit I would fix that place up and make it viable again. Don't care what anyone says about it not being worth it, too much money, whatever. I would get the thing up and running again.

Nine million dollars would at least fix some part of it, wouldn't it?
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Flanders_field
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Username: Flanders_field

Post Number: 122
Registered: 01-2008
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 9:44 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

All of the railroad related work that used to require that much office space, now can be done on one or two floors, thanks to the computer!

How do I know?

I worked there, and watched as those jobs quickly disappeared, office by office, department by department, beginning in the late 70s.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5022
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 9:57 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Nine million dollars would at least fix some part of it, wouldn't it?

$9 million wouldn't do much. The former city auditor--Harris--stated that it would cost the city a minimum of $140 million to restore it to a police headquarters.

Others pegged rehabbing it at over $100 million. So, what use could it serve so as to warrant spending that kind of money? It's a lost cause because there's no money, anyway.
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 536
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 10:44 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It makes sense if someone were to take it as their corporate headquarters. I've seen crazier things, but talk about a signature building.

Compuware was what... a $350 million dollar project?

Totally possible.
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Greatlakes
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Username: Greatlakes

Post Number: 133
Registered: 07-2007
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 10:54 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Coporate headquarters so far out from the rest of the CBD?

Its downfall was pretty much set once they decided to try to "expand the downtown" in that direction. Even if it were in New Center or Midtown rather than downtown, it'd have a better chance. One option though to consider is perhaps turning it into a museum ala what Cincinnati did to their old railroad station, Union Terminal.

http://www.benmautner.com/wide rangle/2007/05/union-terminal- cincinnati.html
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River_rat
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Username: River_rat

Post Number: 318
Registered: 02-2006
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:09 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Digitalvision says, "I am almost driven to tears whenever I see it in the condition it's in, especially the pictures of the interior people sometimes post on here. How anyone could let that piece of history and grandeur rot is beyond me."

Answer -- This is Detroit.
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 537
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:20 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Yes, Greatlakes, your point is well taken - but most companies want a more suburban layout. In fact, of the CEOs I know, very few want to have headquarters anywhere inside a downtown for their practical reasons that this region is car-driven and moving that many people in and out of a downtown is a pain and their employees prefer walk out of their office, have their car in the lot next door, and hit the freeway right away.

It's a minority that want the urban, downtown thing.

That said, you sure could fit a lot of parking lot around MCS. Not to mention it has decent freeway access for employees without having to bother all kinds of residential neighbors. In short, play the cards you have dealt to you.

And yes, River_rat, I know... I try to forget about that over-reaching part.
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Detx
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Username: Detx

Post Number: 85
Registered: 07-2007
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:25 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Wow. I've been in the train station a hundred times and never imagined it could look that grand. Can anyone explain how it ended up in the state it is in today? I don't understand, as lots of people still ride trains...
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Greatlakes
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Username: Greatlakes

Post Number: 134
Registered: 07-2007
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:30 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

To answer that, you'd need to understand the mindset of someone who walks into a lobby like that and says to himself, "I think some spraypaint would look pretty good all over this."
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Detx
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Username: Detx

Post Number: 86
Registered: 07-2007
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:31 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I don't mean the physical state of the building, but how it ended up abandoned in the first place.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5026
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:32 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Why do we need to rerererererediscuss this point?

Namely, Detroit isn't going to turn itself around anytime soon. The MCS is just the tip on the iceberg.

Ten more years down the road, other misguided souls will be bitching about what little that happened before and will demand even more taxpayer support for Detroit. Nothing new, really.

Even Detroit's gentrification efforts over the past four decades--including the most recent--have failed. Gentrification will need to succeed first before any significant commerce downtown succeeds. Not the other way. Even a very few hundred condo units have no viable Detroit market.
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Greatlakes
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Post Number: 135
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Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:37 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

How did it end up abandoned in the first place? Simple: Detroit no longer is able to support a train station of that size. Not enough passengers, not enough traffic, not enough businesses nearby or downtown...in short, not enough money.

Cities that didn't lose half of their population were unable to support their grand train stations as well...why would Detroit's even worse case be any different?
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 538
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Sunday, February 03, 2008 - 11:45 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Actually, Detx, I hate to say this but almost no one rides trains except in the northeast - NY/Philadelphia/Boston.

Most train service today is freight - if you take a look at the current Amtrak station up in midtown, it's tiny.

Here's a quote from a document I linked to below from the Congressional Budget Office:

"Railroad intercity passenger service meets no important needs that cannot be provided for by other carriers and possesses no uniquely necessary service advantages. It serves no locations which cannot be adequately served by air and highway."

Fancy way of saying, rail ain't worth it anymore.

From 2003, but relevant:

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdoc.cfm? index=4571&type=0&sequence=3
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Bearinabox
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Username: Bearinabox

Post Number: 509
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:20 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Here we go again.
The reason "almost no one rides trains" in the US is that our train system is terrible.
The reason our train system is terrible is that it is underfunded.
In Germany, for example, the train system is adequately funded. As a result, the system works, and people use it. "Relevance" has absolutely nothing to do with it. Our government has simply decided to subsidize air and highway travel rather than passenger rail, and that choice is reflected by Americans' relative unwillingness to ride trains.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5031
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:38 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

There the socialists go again...

Actually, I yearn for horse and wagons to return. It wasn't that long ago that the cities used horses for horsepower. Milwaukee still used horses and wagons for its trash pickup until the early 1950s.

It's a shame that the horses were put to pasture by massive government underfunding of horses...
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Bearinabox
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Username: Bearinabox

Post Number: 510
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:03 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Subsidizing trains is no more or less socialist than subsidizing automobiles or airplanes.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5032
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:08 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

It's much easier to get taxpayer funding for things the taxpayers want and use--roads and air travel--than for those things that they most definitely don't want or need--passenger trains.
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Gsgeorge
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Username: Gsgeorge

Post Number: 570
Registered: 08-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:39 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

clearly Livernoisyard has never been on the trains in Germany, that's for sure.
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Dalangdon
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Username: Dalangdon

Post Number: 153
Registered: 03-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 3:33 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Actually, people like trains, and people like Amtrak. It keeps breaking ridership records, year after year, despite inconsistent funding from corporate controlled congresses, and feeble-minded arguments about it's "socialist" nature (as opposed to the truly socialist federal highway system, which is literally collapsing from lack of investment).

The real problem is the private rail industry, which has been the recluse for a lot of otherwise unemployable management types over the last thirty years or so. Not all of them have been incompetent, of course, but enough to make sure the industry is no brain trust.

Having sat on their brains long enough to collect a pension, those folks are finally retiring, so maybe some intelligent new blood can take over and figure out new ways to do things - not just rehash whatever their previous supervisor told them to do.

Sorry to state it so baldly, but it's really been a dismal industry for a long time, and deregulation only made it worse. They really needed a structured environment ;-)


(Message edited by dalangdon on February 04, 2008)
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5033
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 5:44 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

And after all that hoopla, cheerleading, and celebrating in the above post, Amtrak still needs federal and state taxpayer support for those money-losing three daily Detroit/Chicago round-trip runs.

Even with all that so-called "bursting at the seams" boostering from the passenger-rail proponents, the number of passenger cars doesn't increase in those consists. Somehow, that doesn't gibe with all that socialistic noise presented above...

The Ann Arbor ridership on the Chicago-Detroit run is higher than that of Detroit, BTW. And those ridership spikes are on Friday and Sunday/Monday, eight months out of the year. That suggests college kids, not commuters or commerce. And after they get their college diplomas, they'll kiss off Michigan for good due to lack of work and get jobs elsewhere. Not a good investment of local taxpayer funds.

If any power brokers and government leaders were convinced that all that proposed rail for Detroit would really save Detroit from further collapsing into its own black hole, it would have happened long ago.

(Message edited by livernoisyard on February 04, 2008)
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Jrvass
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Username: Jrvass

Post Number: 438
Registered: 01-2007
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 7:26 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I rode the Amtrak from Pontiac to Chicago once 10-11 years ago to buy a new truck. Then caught the train from Chicago to Naperville. Aside from the Peoplemover... my only US train trip (France is a different story. Flush the toilet and you see the railroad tracks!)

Anyway, we got somewhere around Jackson and made a stop. It was late December and one of the car doors stuck open. An hour later, they thawed it out so it would close and we could continue to Chicago.

Not as annoying as riding the Greyhound to Marquette, MI as a college student. But still not as convenient as your own car.

Oh, and how did I get to the Pontiac Amtrak station? A rental car. No bus service. Let's face it. Detroit is not mass-transit friendly.
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Bearinabox
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Username: Bearinabox

Post Number: 511
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 11:12 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

But still not as convenient as your own car.

Not for a trip to Chicago, perhaps. But say you're going a bit further--St. Paul, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, someplace like that. Most people, regardless of caffeine intake, would have trouble making a trip of that distance nonstop in a car. Add the time wasted in rest stops and the money thrown down in some cheap freeway-side motel, and the train starts to look pretty good, even with the ridiculous delays and the deplorable condition of many/most of the tracks. In a train, you can sit back and space out, listen to music, read, look out the window, and even get up and stretch your legs once in a while. In a car, you're stuck being awake, alert, and sitting in exactly the same position for the duration of your trip.
As for airplanes, they're an enormous pain--security checks, cramped, pressurized cabins, the relative isolation of most airports from area destinations, and you're still basically strapped to your seat for the duration of the trip.
Trains make sense. I'm not advocating them because I have some obsessive desire to waste money. I genuinely believe them to be a uniquely desirable mode of long-distance transportation, and consider a functioning train system an integral attribute of any civilized society. Highways, not so much. A long-distance road trip is fun once in a while, but it's not a practical alternative to a train system. Do we really have to have this conversation every three months?
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Jrvass
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Username: Jrvass

Post Number: 440
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 11:21 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

No. I hate flying but enjoy riding the rails.

Chicago is more "rail friendly" than Detroit. Here, we seem to rip up the rails to make bike trails. Sad.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5036
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 11:25 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Do we really have to have this conversation every three months?

Was this meant as an aside to your own whining and bitching that there are no trains to/from Chicago more frequently than three daily?

If Amtrak ridership is so great, how come that Amtrak doesn't add another coach to their consists??? A very simple, but apparently unneeded, solution because the ridership isn't **really** that great, now isn't it?
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 539
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 11:31 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bear,

If rail was as popular as air, you'd have the same security concerns.

Look - I like rail. I'm very pro-mass-transit. However, the reality is that intercity rail is virtually irrelevant as an American transportation system because as long as 40 years ago Americans made the choice to take airplanes and they prefer airplanes. They also prefer cars.

I don't agree with the idea that people desire to live 45 minutes away from work and suck an hour and a half of their day driving, but it's the reality of American culture and it's not changing anytime soon.
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Bearinabox
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Username: Bearinabox

Post Number: 512
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 11:34 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

When did I whine or bitch to that effect? My problem is not, and has never been, with the frequency of Amtrak service. I will now spell out very clearly for you what I think is wrong with Amtrak, so there is no further confusion on the subject:
1. The trains don't run on time.
2. The ROWs are so torn up that the trains feel like they're derailing every ten seconds.
3. The trains run much more slowly than trains on comparable routes in countries that have decent train systems.
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Bearinabox
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Username: Bearinabox

Post Number: 513
Registered: 04-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 11:36 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Digital, funny you should bring up the sprawl issue. Americans' choices to live like that are brought about in large part by the government's decisions about what to subsidize, much like our choices to use highways and airplanes rather than trains. The free market in both these instances is an illusion.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5037
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:27 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

Look - I like rail. I'm very pro-mass-transit. However, the reality is that intercity rail is virtually irrelevant as an American transportation system because as long as 40 years ago Americans made the choice to take airplanes and they prefer airplanes. They also prefer cars.

Just in the remote case that you might really have studied up on interurban rail, you might have discovered that those operations in the private sector were going broke even before WWI. The one down Grand River into Detroit/Farmington limped on until 1932 or so. The airlines weren't a factor at all back then, if you knew your history. So you surely cannot intelligently whine about the government subsidizing the non-existent airlines!

The automobiles did in the interurbans after only some ten years or less of their existence. When the cheaper (Model T) versions hit the scene, the writing was on the wall for those interurbans that survived the 1910s. Passenger rail was hurting even 90 years ago, not just 40.

The railroads peaked in 1909/1910 in miles of ROW in Michigan, BTW. It's been way downhill since then for both freight and especially passenger service.

(Message edited by livernoisyard on February 04, 2008)
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Fmstack
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Username: Fmstack

Post Number: 37
Registered: 06-2007
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:34 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Are you in favor of socialized roads, Livernoisyard, or would you prefer to switch to a private enterprise system?
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Clermont
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Username: Clermont

Post Number: 23
Registered: 09-2007
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:39 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

i was there with my jug band the day the station closed. we did a whole set of train songs. it was extremely cold inside the building that day and we all earned all Polar Bear Club badges.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5038
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:42 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Socialized roads are here already and paid for in large part by fuel taxes--user fees. Fuel taxes pay, in part, for alternate modes of transportation.

But passenger rail only is feasible in a few areas, and none in or around Detroit. There is and will be little (none, relatively) demand for it.
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Professorscott
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Username: Professorscott

Post Number: 1072
Registered: 12-2006
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 12:52 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The automobiles did in trains only after the government (which is publicly funded) invested millions and then billions of dollars in roads, bankrupting many of the railroads (which had been built by private investors). The airlines have not been structurally profitable; the government (which also provides, at taxpayer expense, the critical function of air traffic control, plus ownership of nearly every significant airport is government at some level) has to prop them up.

People will use whatever form of transportation gets them where they need to go reasonably well. In countries that invest in trains, people ride trains. In the country that invests only in roads, and not enough at that, people drive everywhere.

Calling government subsidy of one or another form of transportation "socialism" is silly and archaic. Governments subsidize nearly every kind of transportation, all over the world. Nobody directly pays all the costs of transporting himself.
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Fmstack
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Post Number: 38
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:02 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Shee-it, you mean that we're not all rugged individuals completely making our worlds for ourselves without the influence of anyone else impinging on our total freedom at any point? Christ, then what's the point of anything?
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Providence
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Username: Providence

Post Number: 2
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:04 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I believe it would be an excruciatingly slow process to bring rail back to Detroit. But not because rail isnít useful here Ė because of Detroiters.

I am currently living in the northeast and take to train everyday to and from work. I cannot say enough how much nicer it is to take the train than drive. The time it takes to commute is roughly the same as driving. But commute time aside, there is no traffic to deal with, which means your schedule is reliable. You can also use the time any way you please Ė sleeping, working, reading, etc. The same canít be said for driving, which is essentially wasted time. Then there are gas and car maintenance savings, which are substantial.

On my point about Detroit, though; I grew up in the Detroit area and it was really difficult for me to even work myself up to try the train. I didnít like the idea of not have the freedom of a car, and I was really apprehensive about logistics, such as getting to the train station (on time) and then getting to work once I reached my stop. It seemed like a lot of hassle (even though it didnít turn out to be). I believe this is a philosophy that would be shared by many Detroit area residents of the newer generations. Like with me, it can be overcome, but it would take a lot of time Ė and that would slow (and possibly even stop) development efforts.

Iím not sure that Detroit right now has the patience to ride out a paradigm shift. When a development project occurs here, people want to see immediate success, or efforts are usually abandoned. It would take some time to build ridership on a pilot rail line. I can see that giving the project a big ďfailureĒ stamp, even though it has potential for success over time.

Rail is also not cheap. In the US at least, it requires a lot of subsidy money (hello socialism argument). The Boston Commuter Rail is billions in the hole. But that is tolerated because of its intrinsic benefit. It benefits not only quality of life for many area residents, but it also greatly reduces the strain on the highway system. It would surprise me if Michigan and Detroit would be comfortable accepting that kind of liability Ė I would guess they would want something that is going to more or less pay for itself.

Looking at the size of the Detroit area footprint, itís baffling that rail died here. Ending the cycle of thought that ended rail will probably be no quick process.

The Amtrak issue in Detroit is due to really one thing Ė time. It takes way too long to get to Chicago by rail. If it were quick, people would use it. But freight traffic and slow speed zones currently hamper that. It takes me 35 minutes to get from Providence to Boston via Amtrak (almost a half-hour shorter than car). Thatís the selling point for inter-city rail service. Amtrak needs a better route (which I believe they are working on Ė no?). Another Detroit catch 22 Ė Amtrak is slow because it doesnít have the ridership to justify infrastructure improvement; Ridership is low because Amtrak is slow.

All I know is that it is going to be really hard for me to get used to driving again when I get back to Detroit. I donít buy the argument at all that rail is an outdated mode of transportation; especially between regional cities (if Amtrak were faster than it is now, would flying really still be better? Think about airport parking, security, and early boarding). But it does require infrastructure and investment. I would love to see the MCS a transportation hub again. If/when rail becomes viable here again, I just hoe the MCS is salvageable.
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5040
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:07 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Bankruptcies were rife in railroading decades before the automobiles ever hit the roads. It's just too convenient to pin government blame on doing in the railroads, especially money-losing passenger service.

Most of the roads in early automobiling were mostly dirt and some gravel roads for the first decade or two of cars. Many cities never even laid their first concrete (urban arterials) streets until the 1920s.
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Professorscott
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Post Number: 1073
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 1:50 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

LY,

For the entire history of railroading, actually, the passenger service was adjunct to the main business of hauling freight. The early RR bankruptcies were because of the same kinds of fraudulent dealings that took down Enron and Worldcom. But the structural bankruptcy of dozens of legitimately built and financed railroads, which culminated with the forming of the quasi-governmental Amtrak and Conrail in 1970 or 1971, was the result of government spending that enabled massive amounts of freight to move from rail to truck.

Not that the railroads were blameless in their own demise; many were poorly run and had deferred maintenance and spent money investing in questionable non-core businesses. But the US government certainly played a big hand in this.

For those of you who belong to AAA, one of their very early lobbying efforts was to improve the conditions of highways beyond how they were (exactly how LY describes them) in the early days.

My thesis, though, is the public will use whatever transportation is well-provided for them. In New York, the subway works great and it's a pain in the ass to drive (try it) so lots of Noo Yawkers use the subway. In Europe, for the most part, it is easy and convenient to get around by train, and transit within cities is quite good, so lots of people take advantage. In Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County, Michigan, the bus service is flimsy and there are lots and lots of highways, so nearly everybody drives. We use what we have.
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Burnsie
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Username: Burnsie

Post Number: 1276
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 3:09 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Detx asked how the MC Depot came to be abandoned. Conrail owned the station, decided to move its office staff to Dearborn, and sold the building in 1985. Amtrak couldn't afford to be the sole tenant, so it moved out in Jan. 1988 to a tiny prefab building next door on Rose St. The various station owners after Conrail either had grand plans and no money, or no plans and a lot of money (e.g., M. Moroun).

Greatlakes wrote that "Its downfall was pretty much set once they decided to try to 'expand the downtown' in that direction."

The only real reason the station was built away from downtown is that the location of the new Detroit River RR tunnel dictated it. The only workable spot for the tunnel mouth was out there. If the station had been built downtown at the old 3rd St. site, through passenger trains to and from Canada (there were quite a few of them back then) would have had to make time-consuming and costly backup moves.

Dalangdon-- Your words about the RR industry being a recluse for otherwise unemployable management is a lot of B.S. Would you care to explain the record profits that RRs such as Canadian National and Norfolk Southern have enjoyed recently? Obviously not all railroads have been blessed with the best management (CSX, for example), but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Dalangdon also wrote, "it's really been a dismal industry for a long time, and deregulation only made it worse."

Really? Made it worse by finally allowing the railroads marketplace freedom to set up rates & contracts on their own with shippers, instead of having prices dictated to them by the Interstate Commerce Commission? Made it worse by allowing railroads to abandon hopelessly money-losing branches without going through years of ICC dithering and red tape?

Please explain, how are the much higher profits and lower operating ratios enjoyed after deregulation less desirable than the bloated, money-losing pre-deregulation railroads?
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Slybird
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Username: Slybird

Post Number: 24
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 3:19 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I live in Chicago, and I take the train daily to work and back.

I have in the last year taken the train back and forth to Detroit 7 times. I love the train.
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Providence
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Username: Providence

Post Number: 3
Registered: 11-2007
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 3:32 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I donít believe Morounís purchase of the property was without planís, they just didnít necessarily involve passenger service or use of the building. I believe he purchased the property with the sole intention of securing access of the tracks (their connection to the Detroit River Tunnel being the main value point). It was more of a strategic RR land grab. Iím sure the building is more of a burden to him than an asset.

I remember hearing that from people who knew him. I donít necessarily have anything to back it up, but it makes sense given his industry position and care for the property since the purchase. Morounís business reasons for purchasing the property havenít really been discussed. Heís saavy enough as a businessman not to purchase the property just for the sake of purchasing it. And it seems apparent that he didnít purchase it for a love of the building or its history.
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Digitalvision
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Username: Digitalvision

Post Number: 540
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Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 4:21 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

What you say Providence makes perfect sense from a business perspective.

I do agree with many of the other folks who say the government subsidized it, and that yes, in fact, there is an illusion of a free market here. I also agree that if rail to Chicago was faster and more regular, it'd be used more.

However, it is what it is - harping on the past does nothing to move the future forward. You get points for knowing the history and that does have some effect.

However, it's 2008, the decisions are made, the damage done. The real question for an entrepreneur, investor, or government official is what to do now and how to make that happen.

As long as Maroun controls the property, nothing will until he sells it (or it'll be torn down, but why go through the expense if he doesn't have to). And if Providence is correct, he has very little reason to sell as his reasons are different than what's best for the building and arguably the community.
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Dove7
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Username: Dove7

Post Number: 2039
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 6:18 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Many of you on here also must not forget that trains are big here on the west coast too. While most of the automobiles are over here in my neck of the woods, the demand is still here. I can take a train to L.A. from San Fran anytime. Heck, I live in Berkeley, Ca. and I can take a train not to far from my house. Amtrak is very big here. They even have their own bus system.


I also have to agree with the few that addressed that the train stations over in Europe rule. We are a car driven society. It is this that has led to the demise of the train station and congestion in the major cities. San Francisco is thinking about doing what the French do with Paris. They charge the car driver to drive in the city which forces people to take the transit. Obviously the key/goal is to rid of the car traffic that seem to be effective their. Detroit's case is a different issue with multiple issues.
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Dove7
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Username: Dove7

Post Number: 2040
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 6:23 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Dalangdon: "Actually, people like trains, and people like Amtrak. It keeps breaking ridership records, year after year, despite inconsistent funding from corporate controlled congresses, and feeble-minded arguments about it's "socialist" nature (as opposed to the truly socialist federal highway system, which is literally collapsing from lack of investment).

The real problem is the private rail industry, which has been the recluse for a lot of otherwise unemployable management types over the last thirty years or so. Not all of them have been incompetent, of course, but enough to make sure the industry is no brain trust.

Having sat on their brains long enough to collect a pension, those folks are finally retiring, so maybe some intelligent new blood can take over and figure out new ways to do things - not just rehash whatever their previous supervisor told them to do.

Sorry to state it so baldly, but it's really been a dismal industry for a long time, and deregulation only made it worse. They really needed a structured environment ;-)"


I have no doubts about that. When I took the train first heading this way. The only reason why I drove my car out here was because I knew that I had planned on making this my new home. But my last commute out here was via Amtrak. I take the train because I like riding through the Rockies and the Colorado river.
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Busterwmu
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Username: Busterwmu

Post Number: 422
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 6:43 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Well Livernois, Kathinozarks $9 million might do your trick for getting more equipment to keep up with Michigan Line Amtraks' demand. Amtrak is so strapped for cash right now that they cannot rehab the 30+ Amfleet I coaches currently in storage in New Orleans or behind the shops at Bear, DE, or build any new coaches, for that matter. In 2006, Illinois brought several new medium distance trains on line, each requiring a trainset of 3-4 cars. These come out of the same pool as the trains which serve Detroit. There are only so many cars to go around right now. For now, the trains continue to sell out.

And, on that topic, why not take a look at an Amtrak 351/352 or 353/354 consist over a weekend sometime. Often you'll find an extra coach has been added to accomodate the busy weekend. Over Thanksgiving, some trains in Michigan ran with 7 coaches (where they normally had four).

Otherwise, Kathinozarks $9 million might be able to provide some real fencing around MCS, maybe some real doors and windows, and a good cleanup of the property. It would not move Amtrak back in there or any other tenants, but it could improve the exterior considerable (windows, perhaps?) and/or go toward some structural repairs. Check out this link about Buffalo's abandoned Central Terminal. Although not in the hands of an unscrupulous person such as Matty, and although not currently in use, it had windows or covered over window frames to at least keep out a lot of the elements.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B uffalo_Central_Terminal
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Greatlakes
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Username: Greatlakes

Post Number: 137
Registered: 07-2007
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 9:08 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

quote:

The only real reason the station was built away from downtown is that the location of the new Detroit River RR tunnel dictated it.



Whether or not that was the "real reason" at the time, the point is that its isolation from other sites downtown or midtown has made it less likely to be reused in some fashion, transportation related or not, a fact that was set when the first brick was laid.
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Burnsie
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Username: Burnsie

Post Number: 1277
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 9:31 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

I'm well aware of the history presented on that website, Greatlakes, and the points you made in your last post. But again, the station was built there because the tunnel was there.

For more info on that, see the Jan. 4, 1914 issue of "Railway Age Gazette" (I think it's that date, it might be a week later). I looked at the copy that's in the Library of Michigan in Lansing. The UM libraries may have that publication as well.

(Message edited by Burnsie on February 04, 2008)
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Livernoisyard
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Username: Livernoisyard

Post Number: 5050
Registered: 10-2004
Posted on Monday, February 04, 2008 - 9:43 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

The city of Detroit is an urban analog of a debtor nation. It hardly would otherwise ever send any of that $9 million lost to lawsuits & debt service to Amtrak for any coach refurbishing. Ditto for any fencing or security for the MCS.
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Rsa
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Username: Rsa

Post Number: 1390
Registered: 10-2003
Posted on Tuesday, February 05, 2008 - 9:42 am: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

my boss' office was one of the last to move out of the tower of MCS. he was, at the time, the architect for the owners who bought it from amtrak. there were grand plans at the time, that obviously fell thru.

anyway, i have relayed (from him) the history of the station after amtrak sold it on another thread. for those who are interested, just search the archives. it might be a little buried, but it should have a thread title close to matching the title of the station. i wrote it probably within the past year.
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Burnsie
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Username: Burnsie

Post Number: 1278
Registered: 11-2003
Posted on Tuesday, February 05, 2008 - 12:20 pm: ††Edit PostDelete Post†††Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)

Rsa-- Amtrak never owned the station. It was owned by Penn Central until 1976, then Conrail until 1985. Conrail sold it to William Spencer.

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