ANN ARBOR – Summer vacations could soon look very different.
Early findings from a six-month-long study by consulting firm Transportation Economics and Management Systems show a clear demand for the restoration of train service to northern Michigan.
Representatives from TEMS are meeting with city officials this week in Traverse City and Petoskey to present the data.
In the summer months, these towns experience a massive influx in visitors, to the tune of 500,000 visitors on any given week in peak season.
With plans to test trains that run up to 110 mph -- cutting driving time -- the firm believes ridership will increase dramatically.
The state-owned tracks are still in place and reportedly in good shape, but funding the project is a different story.
TEMS officials explained the project could take 15-20 years to implement, depending on who decides to jump onboard.
But nonprofit advocacy organization Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities believes all this can be achieved in under a decade with a focused campaign, enough public engagement and support, technical analysis and support from state and federal agencies.
(Photo: Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities)
Groundwork's deputy director, Jim Bruckbauer, in a statement on its website, explained why there is a need for the line to be revitalized:
"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."
Read more about Groundwork's A2TC rail project here.