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An Open Letter to Gov. Snyder: How You Can Improve Public Transportation

Here's my idea: split the Amtrak line between Pontiac and Chicago into two lines.

Dear Governor Synder,

I am writing to you today as a 32-year-old working resident of Michigan who is longing for employment and residence in a state that offers better public transportation.  I have not given up on Michigan yet, though.  I feel there are things that can be done here by our government, without spending millions on new infrastructure, to improve public transportation in Southeast Michigan.  

Why improve public transportation here?  Because I believe it would seriously stimulate our economy and attract businesses if we could get to work and play without a car, freeing up thousands a year to spend on other things.

Split the Amtrak

While it is not my field of study or employment, transportation is a passion of mine. Perhaps experts or professional research will prove me wrong but here is my thought: Split the Amtrak line between Pontiac and Chicago into two lines. One line will run between Ann Arbor and Chicago three times daily and the other between Ann Arbor and Pontiac a dozen or more times daily. This new line between Ann Arbor and Pontiac will serve those who can’t or don’t want to drive into and out of Detroit for work and recreation.  This line already exists and would not take up additional traffic lanes or require new track. 

It would also help free up our overburdened highways and bridges. This line has stops in or near major cities such as Pontiac, Birmingham, Royal Oak, Midtown Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor. Increased service and use would fuel increased demand for new stations and busses to close by destinations such as Great Lakes Crossing, The Palace of Auburn Hills, DTE Music Theater, Meadowbrook Theatre, Oakland University, Somerset, downtown Birmingham, the Detroit Zoo, downtown Ferndale, Russell Industrial Center, The Dequindre Cut, Eastern Market, Hamtramck, downtown Detroit, Wayne State, The Henry Ford, Greenfield Village and Detroit Metro Airport. 

I believe this service would attract employees, employers, sports enthusiasts and consumers.  It would also compliment projects like the Troy Transit Center and the M1-Light Rail. 

The parking problem

Since most existing train stations were built well before the invention of the automobile, parking remains a constant constraint on the growth of our cities.  New construction is stunted and demolition of potential residential/business spaces results from increased demand for auto parking spaces.  Several examples come to mind.  Downtown Detroit (Foxtown) remains 50% business and 50% parking to accommodate visitors to baseball, hockey, football, concerts, casinos and other large events.  Parking fees often exceed $20 on game days. 

Unless you can bring these people, who mostly live outside of Detroit, quickly and economically by rail to downtown, the need for parking will continue to keep downtown from growing.  Another example is that of the event in Royal Oak called Arts, Beats and Eats.  It is a major automotive sponsored event that moved from Pontiac to Royal Oak a few years ago.  This event would greatly benefit from increased rail service. 

I strongly believe that if there was a train that ran between Ann Arbor and Pontiac every half an hour or hour, this event would draw more people from up and down the line than ever before and would not be constrained by the availability of parking spaces. The cost and availability of parking often deters people from attending events but most attend anyway because there is no other alternative. 

The train to work

This idea goes beyond ball games though. There are residents in Detroit who work in the Metro area who take multiple busses to get to work who would benefit from increased train traffic. There are people who have moved to the city and want to give up their car but still want to visit the suburbs for shopping and entertainment. When people fly into Detroit, they are forced to rent cars or take a long, expensive taxi ride to their destination. When I flew into Baltimore airport last year we took a free shuttle from the airport to the Amtrak station. If only we had that luxury.

I believe a better alternative is owed to the people of the state of Michigan and you are a governor who gets things done.  If you would like to hear more about my ideas, please do not hesitate to contact me.  I will do whatever I can to bring about positive change in our great state. 

Sincerely,

David Gifford, Rochester, Michigan

To post a letter to the editor, send an email to your local Patch editor. 

chris murray August 12, 2012 at 12:18 AM
The summer of 1970 (I know that was long ago) I took the train from E. Lansing to Rochester Hills (Pontiac train station). It was a slow ride but as a student with no car it allowed us to get someplace we couldn't. So it did exist at one time.
Haulin T Male August 12, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Brian storming? Nothing more then History, as Chris Murray, says above, about Lansing to Rochester. Add this tid bit. Any Mr. Business man in B'field, B'ham area who worked the advert.. houses or the tall buildings in Det. including "THE G. M." building, Either took the Greyhound / Great Lakes Limited (bus transp fore runner to semta.) down Woodward. (.25 lim. might have been .35) and stood (S R O) read one of the 3 dailys, (news, times, freep) or took The TRAIN, various stops along the way, if one was standing,(red / green flag told the eng.) Yep the B'ham Station (with tunnel under the tracks if you were headed north bound), is the great building that is now a Restaurant (The Rock (?) ) at the corner of Eaton & Maple (15mile) down the tracks R. O. was pretty much the last stop (?) (blue collar) till Gand Blv. and down town, there was little leaving work early, cause the train sched. was very punctual.(3 or 4) (on those days wife drove down for P/U) , why did it stop, 1962 the northwestern conect. was done (lodge) soon after the I-75 was finish ......... and traffic jams started.... rest is history.
Haulin T Male August 12, 2012 at 01:24 PM
More History, Skiers!, park your car at the station, load the equipment, (or store up north) on Friday night, no week end warrior stuff rush up for last call, or leave early lie to the boss (lol) and arv. in Gaylord, The Ski Lodges, would be waiting, for transportation to the different Hills. Ski Sunday Morning, grab lunch, the reverse took place. a four five hr sleep , home work (?) till back down state, the ticket was for rnd trip. those were the days, no fender benders, 1 1/2 hr. back ups...... think about it, all you had to do, is what you had to do to be punctual. sweet..... (return trip did not leave till all the resorts had dropped off the passengers)
C August 12, 2012 at 11:01 PM
The last train that ran as far as the Renaissance Center, ended in the fall of 1983. As a passenger on that train, we had hired attorney's to try to keep the train running, but failed. One problem was with the City of Detroit not allowing the trains to go over a certain speed limit (believe it was 25mph), which made it too long for some people. But the train went through neighborhoods, without proper care taken to make those neighborhoods safe for the children. Also, it was reported that the rails were not adequate. That was almost 30 years ago. Yes. something should have been done before this. Plus, have you tried to go to the East Coast w/o flying? Impossible. How about to Northern Michigan via public transportation? Oh, you have a choice. You can fly/drive to Chicago, then fly from there to Northern Michigan for about the same price as to London. Or again, go to Chicago to take a combo train/bus to Philly which only takes about 2 days, then take local transportation the rest of the way to the East Coast. My point is, that Michigan is not the only one with this problem.
Haulin T Male August 13, 2012 at 02:45 AM
C: a couple of points, my daughter worked in Boston,, I picked her up in Toledo, train> how many connections ?. Both Metro, and (bishop?) has flights to Cherry Capital air port, my daughter in law, takes it to N Y, going to trade shows. Marquette NMU, there is a flight intro the closed air force base, A A work hub. it can save time, but $$$$. don't for get going into Pelston, if still avail. Now the Detroit train, I remember the kids playing on the tracks...... but in 1985, and '87 (?) their was the Santa train, on Thanksgiving Day Morning, my oldest was a senior, or it was the second oldest, which ment the oldes was a soph. at state, he came home for that.. Fishers, along the freeway this side of INDY, has a double ended train, that just goes into dwn. twn. and back, 3 x's in the morning, and also afternoon. we were dwn for a girls soccer tourn. on Sunday we decided to go to the huge State Fair they have, we took the train to, when tired we took it back to Fishers where we had our rooms. the town next to Fishers, (???) has taken all their Traffic lights out, and replaced with round abouts, 52 or so........ R hills was down there studying the W"s whats to come .......

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