Would You Take a Train Up North? Train Service To Northern Michigan Becoming Reality?
It's an interesting question to ponder: Would you take a train Up North? For the average person, the quick answer might be no, but if you think about others who might not be so young (or old enough) nor mobile, it's something that is apparently could become a reality soon.
All this is now is a study, but it's a desire to create train service from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. Currently, there is bus service to some of these communities, but no rail service. (A quick check of the Traverse City bus stop says it doesn't even have shelter.) State and Federal funding for Phase II of this planning study is is moving forward, and now the Federal government is also saying they'll kick in some money. Still, this is a long way from actually acquiring land for tracks and right-of-ways, and selling tickets. Yes, it's a start.
A bigger question is, would it make economic sense? Is there going to be enough passenger traffic to justify the expense? Most people pile their gear and luggage into the car and head up north, but are there enough people in the senior category, for example, that would bring a couple of suitcases, and plant themselves at a motel on Munson Avenue in Traverse City to look at Grand Traverse Bay? But this also could see a cottage industry (no pun intended) pop up of tour buses in the fall the changing colors. "If you can get yourself to our town, we'll drive you around to see the fall colors."
Now there's another aspect to this that isn't as obvious. There would be train stops along the way, and officials in towns like Cadillac are licking their chops at the possible economic growth potential.
At the same time, Amtrak is cutting service around the country due in part because they can't find people to work. A lot of things have to be figured out first.
This still needs more study, because a project like this won't come cheap, but it's certainly worth exploring.