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Pere Marquette changes

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https://www.harborcountry-news.com/news/changes-to-amtrak-s-pere-marquette-line-recommended/article_e7743034-0ed7-11e9-883b-0f8763e6a876.html

 

With the ridership falling on this route, do you think adding a connection to the Amtrak line, thus adding stops in Michigan City and New Buffalo, would be a good idea? 

And in the short term would it be feasible to add a stop in Hammond-Whiting?

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I've been riding this train for 15 years and this comes up over and over again, yet the train is nearly sold out all summer. If they need to revise schedules seasonally that's one thing but losing this train in the summer would be overkill.  With all the advertising for St. Joseph for summer events they are counting on that train to bring in people mostly from Chicago.  I can't imagine losing this train.  I also use the Wolverine and there are I think 4 of them in each direction daily, several of which stop in Michigan City and/or Hammond and all I believe in New Buffalo.  I'm not sure what it adds to have the Pere Marquette stop at any of those places.  The PM leaves Union Station at 6:30 pm, and there is a Wolverine right around 6 pm so not sure it really adds anything.  The morning train stops in SJ at 8:10 or so heading to Chicago so would be in NBU at around 8:40 - that might be useful as I think the first train from NBU into Chicago is the 11:24.  Who knows though...it's ridiculous that a train that's this busy even gets considered for the chopping block.  In fact we need 2 a day each way.

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I've been riding this train for 15 years and this comes up over and over again, yet the train is nearly sold out all summer. If they need to revise schedules seasonally that's one thing but losing this train in the summer would be overkill.  With all the advertising for St. Joseph for summer events they are counting on that train to bring in people mostly from Chicago.  I can't imagine losing this train.  I also use the Wolverine and there are I think 4 of them in each direction daily, several of which stop in Michigan City and/or Hammond and all I believe in New Buffalo.  I'm not sure what it adds to have the Pere Marquette stop at any of those places.  The PM leaves Union Station at 6:30 pm, and there is a Wolverine right around 6 pm so not sure it really adds anything.  The morning train stops in SJ at 8:10 or so heading to Chicago so would be in NBU at around 8:40 - that might be useful as I think the first train from NBU into Chicago is the 11:24.  Who knows though...it's ridiculous that a train that's this busy even gets considered for the chopping block.  In fact we need 2 a day each way.


I totally agree with this! When I last rode the Pere Marquette, there were 167 pax boarding in Holland according to the conductor. He said he’s probably seen one larger board at that station in the three years he’s been working the train. Needless to say, it was a sold out train. Every time I ride, the waiting room at the station is filled to capacity. The ridership is such that for the last several years a second train has been necessary at Thanksgiving. Last year there were extra trains added for the Tulip Festival and for the PGA golf tournament in Benton Harbor (both with an extra stop in Hammond-Whiting). There’s no way a speculative opinion article is going to make me believe that the demand isn’t there, no matter what their numbers state. It simply doesn’t pass the eyeball test.

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1 minute ago, tim49424 said:

 


I totally agree with this! When I last rode the Pere Marquette, there were 167 pax boarding in Holland according to the conductor. He said he’s probably seen one larger board at that station in the three years he’s been working the train. Needless to say, it was a sold out train. Every time I ride, the waiting room at the station is filled to capacity. The ridership is such that for the last several years a second train has been necessary at Thanksgiving. Last year there were extra trains added for the Tulip Festival and for the PGA golf tournament in Benton Harbor (both with an extra stop in Hammond-Whiting). There’s no way a speculative opinion article is going to make me believe that the demand isn’t there, no matter what their numbers state. It simply doesn’t pass the eyeball test.

exactly my feeling - those numbers are not matching up to real experience.  I get on at St Joe and even that train in the morning has increased ridership a LOT since I first started taking it, summer is crazy busy and even now in winter there are at least 10 people getting on when there used to be maybe 3. 

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I believe on the day I rode last month (15th) that I spoke of 60+ (!) boarded at SJM. We dwelled there for at least ten minutes. On my return trip (19th) it was substantially less but I had no way of knowing.....I sat in the cafe chatting with the conductors and the LSA pretty much the whole route until I detrained in Holland. The conductors had to excuse themselves at SJM and BAM but for very short periods of time.

 

In one of the conversations I had on the 15th, we talked about new passenger car equipment headed our way in the not too distant future, made by Siemens. Now, if demand wasn’t there, wouldn’t you think the order wouldn’t have been placed? Just food for additional thought.....not for you wwchi, as I’m preaching to the choir but to add to the point that numbers aren’t everything and may not be accurate in the article.

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I don't think the Pere Marquette is in any immediate danger. Ridership goes up and down on all routes. A few promotional fares here and there would push up the statistics. It's good that local communities are on guard for any possible problems. The coast to coast line would, i thought, begin in Holland and connect Grand Rapids, Lansing and Ann Arbor with Detroit. Good idea, but it shouldn't be to the detriment of the Pere Marquette which serves it own unique market.

Rerouting the train on to the Amtrak line just east of New Buffalo would be an expensive process (I believe one of the lines crosses over the other on a bridge) and it would probably take years before any additional ridership made up for the cost of the connection. The best improvement for the line would be the construction of the South of the Lake project to get all the Amtrak trains off of much of the freight traffic-chocked NS route. 

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Well the better question is, whats going on with ridership the days you all are not riding. I see this kind of posts on airline forums all the time when a route gets cut. "But the plane was full when I flew blah blah blah." The better question to ask is whats going on the other 364 days when one of you are not riding the train.

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The coast to coast line would, i thought, begin in Holland and connect Grand Rapids, Lansing and Ann Arbor with Detroit.

 

This is what I heard as well. As a matter of fact, a public meeting was held in Holland about the studies involved in the planning about four years ago....I was going to attend it, however I took ill and was unable to.

 

 

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8 minutes ago, seat38a said:

Well the better question is, whats going on with ridership the days you all are not riding. I see this kind of posts on airline forums all the time when a route gets cut. "But the plane was full when I flew blah blah blah." The better question to ask is whats going on the other 364 days when one of you are not riding the train.

I have ridden this train for 15 years - typically Thursday/Friday/Sunday/Monday but have also seen it full on Tuesday and Wednesday. I can't speak to Saturdays as I don't think I've ever done that. I'm sure Fridays and Mondays are most packed but like I said 15 years of a variety of days has shown me a lot.

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I have ridden this train for 15 years - typically Thursday/Friday/Sunday/Monday but have also seen it full on Tuesday and Wednesday. I can't speak to Saturdays as I don't think I've ever done that. I'm sure Fridays and Mondays are most packed but like I said 15 years of a variety of days has shown me a lot.

 

I have ridden Saturdays (the above December 15 trip was the most recent) many times and it always seems to be near capacity.

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Well the better question is, whats going on with ridership the days you all are not riding. I see this kind of posts on airline forums all the time when a route gets cut. "But the plane was full when I flew blah blah blah." The better question to ask is whats going on the other 364 days when one of you are not riding the train.


Again, the alleged downturn in ridership doesn’t meet the eye test. It’s as busy or busier than it was when I first started riding the Pere Marquette back in December 2007, a total of nearly 150 times on the route.

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4 hours ago, tim49424 said:

In one of the conversations I had on the 15th, we talked about new passenger car equipment headed our way in the not too distant future, made by Siemens. Now, if demand wasn’t there, wouldn’t you think the order wouldn’t have been placed? 

 

The new equipment order isn't specifically for the Pere Marquette.  Basically the entire Midwest fleet is being replaced.

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The new equipment order isn't specifically for the Pere Marquette.  Basically the entire Midwest fleet is being replaced.


This may be true but the discussion I had was specifically about the Pere Marquette.

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Just now, tim49424 said:

 


This may be true but the discussion I had was specifically about the Pere Marquette.

 

 

No equipment has been purchased specifically for the Pere Marquette.  The new equipment will be in a pool for all midwest service.  If anyone said that equipment is being acquired specifically for the Pere Marquette and no other train, they were mistaken.

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It's possible that the peaks of ridership are when you're riding as well (everyone traveling at popular times.) Anecdotes aren't a replacement for hard ridership numbers, though it's worth checking with an earlier and later start year to see if it's an artifact of the timeframe used or if there's a trend worth looking into.

Gas prices may also be making a toll on this route - gas prices were at record highs for the time in 2007, which may have led to a lot of people trying out the train to save on gas money. With gas prices relatively lower now and some people opting out of it (perhaps, for whatever reason, the train didn't work out as well as they thought it would) it's possible that there's lower ridership now than in 2007. Since most of the other routes have higher frequencies, and many have received upgrades, it's possible that people stuck with those trains once gas prices dropped as they were still more convenient/more useful.

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No equipment has been purchased specifically for the Pere Marquette.  The new equipment will be in a pool for all midwest service.  If anyone said that equipment is being acquired specifically for the Pere Marquette and no other train, they were mistaken.


You are misunderstanding what I’m saying. The discussion was about the Pere Marquette. Nobody said the equipment was exclusively for the PM. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that anyone is making that claim.

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20 minutes ago, tim49424 said:

 


You are misunderstanding what I’m saying. The discussion was about the Pere Marquette. Nobody said the equipment was exclusively for the PM. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that anyone is making that claim.

 

Your post makes it sound like because of increased ridership on the PM, new equipment is being ordered.

 

peter

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Your post makes it sound like because of increased ridership on the PM, new equipment is being ordered.
 
peter


It wasn’t meant to. I actually was trying to make a point that the discussion would’ve never happened if the route was being threatened for discontinuance. I fully well know that a great majority of Amtrak routes don’t have their own exclusive equipment.

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2 hours ago, tim49424 said:

 


You are misunderstanding what I’m saying. The discussion was about the Pere Marquette. Nobody said the equipment was exclusively for the PM. I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that anyone is making that claim.

 

 

What you said was:

 

Quote

Now, if demand wasn’t there, wouldn’t you think the order wouldn’t have been placed? 

 

The order absolutely would have been placed, because the order covers the entire Midwest (and supplements California as well) and totals 130+ cars, regardless of what may or may not happen to an individual train that needs all of 3-4 cars.

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33 minutes ago, Trogdor said:

 

What you said was:

 

 

The order absolutely would have been placed, because the order covers the entire Midwest (and supplements California as well) and totals 130+ cars, regardless of what may or may not happen to an individual train that needs all of 3-4 cars.

 

Point taken and received.  The speculated elimination of the Pere Marquette has no effect on the order.  You did teach me that orders are regional, not based on the sum of the total demands of each route added up in said region (i.e. Midwest gets 130 cars, whether or not the PM uses them.....not 127 because the PM isn't using their allotted three) I was not aware of that.

 

 

Edited by tim49424

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Regardless of any reroutes, it would seem most strategic to have, at minimum, a one-seat ride between GRR and CHI and a one-seat ride between GRR and DET. Whatever stops there are in-between is another conversation.
Let me add that I‘d like Michigan to have its own intrastate passenger rail system, perhaps independent of Amtrak, à la MBTA’s commuter services.

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1 hour ago, Pere Flyer said:

Let me add that I‘d like Michigan to have its own intrastate passenger rail system, perhaps independent of Amtrak, à la MBTA’s commuter services.

 

This is a solution I'd never thought of or heard of being discussed.  Is it practical?  Has there been any suggestions bounced around MDOT or other agencies regarding this?

 

Just my opinion, I'd like to see it too, if it connected the entire state.

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This is a solution I'd never thought of or heard of being discussed.  Is it practical?  Has there been any suggestions bounced around MDOT or other agencies regarding this?

 

Just my opinion, I'd like to see it too, if it connected the entire state.

I haven’t heard of any discussion of the sort in MDOT or power-broking circles. Just my opinion as a registered MI voter. I’m glad a fellow Michigander doesn’t think it’s a crazy idea

Basically, I’m imagining a network mostly on existing ROW that connects Detroit with its nearby population centers (e.g. Flint, Pontiac, Warren, Ann Arbor) in addition to the “northern belt” (Saginaw/Bay City, Mt. Pleasant, Big Rapids), “middle belt” (Lansing, GR, Holland, Muskegon), and “lower belt” (Jackson, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph/BH). With stops at the larger intermediate cities and towns. Possible expansion north on the lake coasts to Traverse City and Mackinaw City. Is it practical, you ask? Well, it’d ease wear and tear on Michigan’s notorious roads, and I’d think that train travel’s romantic nature would take hold of summer vacationers bound for the lake house up north.

I’m nearly finished with a map of it in Google’s My Maps program. I’ll share it on AU when it’s completed.

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I haven’t heard of any discussion of the sort in MDOT or power-broking circles. Just my opinion as a registered MI voter. I’m glad a fellow Michigander doesn’t think it’s a crazy idea
Basically, I’m imagining a network mostly on existing ROW that connects Detroit with its nearby population centers (e.g. Flint, Pontiac, Warren, Ann Arbor) in addition to the “northern belt” (Saginaw/Bay City, Mt. Pleasant, Big Rapids), “middle belt” (Lansing, GR, Holland, Muskegon), and “lower belt” (Jackson, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph/BH). With stops at the larger intermediate cities and towns. Possible expansion north on the lake coasts to Traverse City and Mackinaw City. Is it practical, you ask? Well, it’d ease wear and tear on Michigan’s notorious roads, and I’d think that train travel’s romantic nature would take hold of summer vacationers bound for the lake house up north.
I’m nearly finished with a map of it in Google’s My Maps program. I’ll share it on AU when it’s completed.



There are current studies on the coast to coast proposed route connecting Grand Rapids to Detroit via Lansing (or East Lansing), Brighton and Ann Arbor. Also studies ongoing on a project called A2TC, obviously connecting Ann Arbor to Traverse City, I believe via Saginaw (or Flint) and Cadillac. These are Amtrak related. I have no idea how the progression of these are, but they’ve been ongoing now for about five years. There also have been studies of a second daily running of the Pere Marquette, but with ridership allegedly on the decline, I’m sure they’ve pretty much have been shelved.

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Yeah, I’m all for service to TC, but the plan of Ann Arbor as the other endpoint shows me that it’s mainly Ann Arborites who want the train in the first place. Detroit New Center, MCS, or Lansing would be a more strategic endpoint to serve the largest population.

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