Saturday, April 29, 2006

Michigan Amtrak service to continue -- more frequencies needed

This article in the Niles Star lays out the successful effort by Michigan Republicans and others to ensure that Amtrak service between Chicago and Southwest Michigan continues.

Here is the article:

Amtrak receives funding

Friday, April 28, 2006 10:56 AM EDT

State Rep. John Proos and Southwest Michigan House members secured $1 million in the transportation budget for funding Amtrak Rail Service under an agreement released last week with the Senate and administration.

This additional funding will mean that Amtrak will be able to keep open the Pere Marquette and Blue Waters lines in Michigan's Great Southwest.

“This is great news for Michigan's Great Southwest and the residents who use Amtrak as a means of transportation each day,” said Proos, R-St. Joseph.

“Funding for Amtrak is imperative as ridership has increased and local businesses rely on tourism for future economic development. The closure of either of these transportation systems would have been devastating to our region's commercial and tourist industries,” he added.

Legislative Republicans recently came to an agreement with the governor's office to restore or advance transportation projects, including the Amtrak lines in Southwest Michigan.

Proos and Southwest Michigan House legislators sent a letter in January to the chair of the House Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, stating that the funding was of vital importance to Southwest Michigan. Legislators who signed the letter on a bipartisan basis included Reps. Neal Nitz, R-Baroda; Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland; Rick Shaffer, R-Three Rivers; Richard Ball, R-Bennington Township; Alexander Lipsey, D-Kalamazoo; John Stahl, R-North Branch; Lorence Wenke, R-Richland; Mike Nofs, R-Battle Creek; and Jerry Kooiman, R-Grand Rapids.

Students from Illinois, Indiana and Michigan depend on Amtrak services to attend community colleges and four year universities within the region.

“With rising gas prices, this is an alternative means of transportation for many residents who need to watch their budget and use Amtrak to get to and from work on a daily basis,” Proos said.

“Funding for Amtrak is critical for improving Michigan's Great Southwest as it will attract job providers and further our goals and objectives by bringing economic vitality to the state.”


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