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Would you ride a train between Grand Rapids and Detroit? Group wants to hear from you

Creative Commons

A group that's estimating demand for a commuter rail line between Detroit and Grand Rapids is looking for input.

Technically, you can buy a train ticket from Grand Rapids to Detroit, but you have to ride a bus to Kalamazoo first. This rail line would be direct, from Detroit to Holland, with stops in Lansing and Grand Rapids.

Liz Treutel is with the Michigan Environmental Council, and is managing the project.

“Probably one of the biggest things is just figuring out how much public and political will there is,” Treutel said. “That can really dictate the time of a project more a lot of times than the technical side of things.”

The railroads connecting Holland, Grand Rapids, Lansing and Detroit exist now, but only freight carriers use them.

Treutel says they need public feedback to estimate ridership and cost. They’ll also use it to help determine which route is the best between Metro Detroit and Lansing. It could go through Howell, Ann Arbor, Jackson or Plymouth.

Treutel is gauging public interest at meetings in Grand Rapids and Detroit this week. Another is scheduled later this month in Ann Arbor. Find details here.

Two meeting were held earlier this month. She says people are very interested and supportive of the possibility of the line.

“They want to see at least two trains a day, and it has to be competitive,” she said.

“If you’re traveling for work or if you’re traveling for fun you still want it to be at least as fast if not faster than being able to drive in your own personal car,” she added.

She says they’ll use the input to determine the potential route, demand and costs. They’ll release a report with that information by the end of the year.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.