Post Number: 1046
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 7:34 am: || |
http://www.crainsdetroit.com/a pps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/2007 0205/SUB/702020302/1033
Groups push forward on mass-transit proposals
By Andrew Dietderich
6:00 am, February 5, 2007
Parallel efforts are pushing forward plans to bring rapid transit to metro Detroit, including one that could have commuter trains operating daily between Ann Arbor and Detroit by the end of this year.
Washington-based Amtrak and the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments are negotiating to run trains daily between Ann Arbor and Detroit as part of a trial that could last up to three years and be modeled after a similar program in Los Angeles, said Sue Stetler, communications director for SEMCOG.
Marc Magliari, manager of media relations for Amtrak in this region, referred calls to SEMCOG.
Stetler said SEMCOG would hire Amtrak to operate the service. The cost and source of funding have yet to be determined, Stetler said. Ideally, she said, trains would run during the morning and evening rush hours and later in the evening for sporting or theater events.
Once details are worked out, she said, it would take six months to get service up and running. Talks began in December and the most recent meeting was last Tuesday. She said to expect announcement of an agreement soon.
“The Amtrak people have been so enthusiastic and supportive,” Stetler said. “They could offer no examples where a demonstration project like this has not been successful.”
Similar programs are running in New Mexico and Louisiana, she said.
The Amtrak/SEMCOG plans aren't the only ones in the works to make mass transit happen here:
- The Detroit Department of Transportation has hired New York City-based URS Corp. to design a rapid transit system in Detroit, Dearborn, Highland Park and Hamtramck. URS started with 16 possible routes and plans to have a report within the next two months. It hasn't made a decision on what mode of transportation would be used, and several are being considered including street-level rail, said Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United, a nonprofit that supports mass transit.
- The Detroit Collaborative Design Center at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Architecture is working with TRU to put together a three-year plan for mass transit in the region. Plans will include why it needs to happen, what a plan could look like and what the economic benefits might be.
- And the Detroit Regional Chamber plans to support legislation that would lead to the creation of a regional transit authority.
More than 150 people jammed into a Jan. 22 meeting held by TRU to discuss rapid transit plans. The organization has 200 members.
Grassroots organizations such as TRU and the Metropolitan Organizing Strategy for Enabling Strength transportation task force in Detroit are hosting informational sessions from Ann Arbor to Grosse Pointe. A list of meetings hosted by TRU and other organizations is at www.detroittransit.org.
Working to be the link between all of them is John Hertel, former manager of the Michigan State Fair, who quit his job to run the newly formed Detroit Regional Mass Transit.
The organization consists only of Hertel now, hired by the executives of Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties and Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick. Hertel is charged with developing a consensus on mass transit and drumming up support.
Hertel met with legislators in Washington last week who favor mass transit. He met with Gov. Jennifer Granholm in early January to discuss the issue. And he plans to meet with grassroots organizations, cities and townships or anyone else with an interest during the next two months.
“I'm going to be asking two things,” Hertel said. “"What would you like us to build? And what would you publicly support us building?'
“Since World War II we've been going in the wrong direction the entire time,” Hertel said. “We can't go in the wrong direction any more. We have to understand that unlike every other metropolitan area in the country, we have a lot of catching up to do.”
West Michigan could serve as an example.
The Grand Rapids Regional Public Transit Agency voted Jan. 24 to accelerate a study to build a system called The Rapid in downtown Grand Rapids. The agency also voted to ask voters for a property tax increase to help pay for the system and to seek federal funding. The 2.4-mile loop is estimated to cost $69 million.
The Grand Rapids agency looked at Portland, Ore., as an example of how much such a system can benefit an area. Portland built a 4.8-mile system 10 years ago and it's estimated to have spurred $3 billion in investment.
“If they are building it right, it will show people do have an interest in this, want to make these investments and the ridership is there to expand,” Owens said. “So we're really focused on how do we get the first two lines in with the confidence the rest of it will happen from there.”
Owens said the group wants to see a regional commuter line connecting Washtenaw, Wayne and Oakland and a downtown light-rail line.
“If it's quick, clean, comfortable, safe and affordable, it's going to work,” Hertel said.
But Hertel pointed out some of the hurdles that must be overcome. The major ones are the number of governments involved and cost.
“People need to know that this is going to cost a lot of money. They (also) need to know that ... there are tremendous benefits. ... You don't get something of value without putting something of value in,” Hertel said.
Paul Tait, executive director of SEMCOG, said a system needs to happen.
“There is a need to raise our state's gas tax and/or find another source of revenue for roads and transit. And, yes, this increase is needed (even) at a time when our economy is struggling.”
Andrew Dietderich: (313) 446-0315, email@example.com
Post Number: 19
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 8:09 am: || |
this is great news. just went to the URS corp. website. while it shows the numerous projects that the company is working on, there's no mention of a detroit mass transit system yet.
Post Number: 567
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 9:14 am: || |
Long over due! One aversion suburbanites have coming to large cities are the parking hassles and safety of that parked vehicle. Busses are fine, but they have a reputation for running behind schedule, as one good traffic jam messes them up all day . If they are investing in infrastructure all ready via re paving up dating fwys, why not look at updating what Amtrack all ready has to facilitate city commuting? You see that Amtrack run all the time, on time, it's never even at half capacity when it runs thru royal oak. We'd benefit, and Amtrack would benefit.
(Message edited by cambrian on February 05, 2007)
Post Number: 1287
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 9:24 am: || |
I'm sure Detroitman didn't intend to post the entire article, only an excerpt and a link.
Post Number: 1047
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 9:34 am: || |
My bad 1953, I only posted the entire article becuase I thought you had to subscribe to Crain's Detroit to see the entire article.
Post Number: 2392
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 10:44 am: || |
Good to hear...I am confident that there will be at least an announcement confirming the commuter rail demonstration line by the end of this year.
Post Number: 10
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 10:51 am: || |
I am glad to hear that there is some real movement going on with this. I have complained for years that having to drive downtown from the burbs really limits what I can do downtown. If we had some reliable regional transit it would make it much easier and more fun to come downtown.
Post Number: 147
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 2:14 pm: || |
You can read that entire article for free on the Crain's web site. It's great to see there's this much going on. I am especially intrigued by the City's work with URS, about which the City has been sort of unusually quiet so far.
Post Number: 327
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 7:16 pm: || |
And, yes, this increase is needed (even) at a time when our economy is struggling.
END OF QUOTE
There are many people who struggle with a low wage job and have no medical insurance. Maybe those who want mass transit should pay more and leave the taxpayers alone first before we raise mass transit taxes for the fourth time since 1995?
If only these same people could fix our roads and public bus systems? We have a lot of big talkers who do nothing when it comes to mass transit in southeast Michigan.
I just hope that we can begin "Moving Forward" someday and actually see the improvements we are promised and to keep them.
Post Number: 3756
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 7:27 pm: || |
change your name bruh...
It seems to be more of an oxymoron than anything else...
Post Number: 415
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 7:33 pm: || |
I know that this is just a temp. option until a more dedicated system can be set in place, but with decades of little rail transit, I am actually pretty surprised with how fast they seem to be moving on this issue. Its been just a few months since the AA to Detroit line started getting discussed with an seriousness. Yeah Detroit!!!
Post Number: 1286
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 7:36 pm: || |
I imagine this will stop at the New Center Amtrak station? Would be better if it were somehow connected to the CBD.
This is a start. Should I need to venture between the 2 cities, I will very much support this.
Post Number: 416
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 7:44 pm: || |
Yeah this is a very temporary solution. There was discussion similar to this back about a month ago when SEMCOG released their ideas for the route. Basically it is going to be difficult to get one line that will connect AA then to the airport then to the CBD.
Post Number: 151
|Posted on Monday, February 05, 2007 - 9:43 pm: || |
At least with this service, even the very inexpensive "starter service" as they're calling it, it will be reasonably efficient to get to the Airport from either AA or D, and to get to and from those two Cities and a few points in between. And with the frequency of bus service in the lower Woodward corridor, connecting to downtown will actually be a trifle for anyone who wants to.
I agree with Jerome81 that a direct rail CBD link would be optimal, and maybe some day we'll get there, but for now the train must run where the tracks exist.
There have been a lot of people working on this, behind the scenes and in front, for a very long time. Without the support of many community and business leaders, people at SEMCOG like Carmine Palombo, citizen-advocacy groups like MOSES and TRU, it would not be where it is today. Many of my friends and colleagues will have a right to be a little proud the day the first train pulls out, and this is only a first step.
Charlottepaul, the initial study from which this starter service is likely to be the first tangible result actually started, I believe, in 2000 or 2001. It has gone through many transformations and taken a good bit of several people's careers to get to this point.
I especially applaud SEMCOG's willingness to take the lemon of Parsons-Brinckerhoff's study results and try to make a reasonably good drink out of it.
Of course, the train hasn't quite left a station yet, but the drive and the optimism are like nothing I've seen in my quarter-century in and around the D. When it does open for business, and I believe it will, I hope someone will remind me to telephone our old and dear advocate-general Tom Barwin and borrow him from his new digs in Illinois so he can be one of the riders on the very first train.
Post Number: 427
|Posted on Tuesday, February 06, 2007 - 8:38 am: || |