Biden Infrastructure Plan Could Expand Passenger Rail Service in Detroit
Amtrak says its goal is to create a new Detroit-Toledo line by 2035, offer more rides to Chicago and maybe new service to Canada.
Metro Detroiters might someday be able to ride an Amtrak train to Toledo on their way to the east coast.
“Imagine, if you will, going more than one direction from Detroit.” — Marc Magliari on Amtrak’s goal of adding new service in southeast Michigan.
President Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $80 billion to improve the nation’s passenger rail system. Amtrak responded by publishing what it calls an “aspirational” map showing where it wants to expand existing service and establish new routes by 2035.
The map includes a new Detroit-to-Toledo service.
Amtrak spokesperson Marc Magliari says the new route would connect southeast Michigan to a larger part of the country.
Listen: Marc Magliari talks about how Amtrak would spend money in President Biden’s infrastructure plan.
“Imagine, if you will, going more than one direction from Detroit,” he says. “Down to Toledo and off to Buffalo and New York state.”
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Amtrak operated three daily round-trip trains from Pontiac to Chicago through Detroit. Right now, that’s down to one.
Magliari says Amtrak would like to expand service to Chicago, and create a new passenger service to Canada.
“There’s been a lot of talk about connecting Detroit to Windsor, to London, to Toronto,” he says. “That’s on the map.”
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None of this is etched in stone, and any new funding would require congressional approval. Beyond that, Magliari says it would take a greater federal investment to help states and local governments pay for new rail service.
“As it stands today, if new service were to start, Amtrak would contribute about 15 cents of every dollar to operate it,” he says. “But everything else would be on the state and ticket sales. And that’s a pretty high hurdle for a lot of states who’ve never done it before.”
Magliari says Amtrak would want to make it easier for states to start service and decide where and how often trains would stop to pick up and drop off passengers between Detroit and Toledo.
“We’ll work with the states,” he says. “They’ll tell us what to do. Then we work with communities along the route to see what stops make the most sense.”
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