Greetings to all those interested in North-South Commuter Rail!
We have been very busy since the last community meeting, and our apologies for not getting back to you sooner! The project team has been working on numerous tasks, including: developing multiple operating scenarios (e.g. shortest possible route, full length route, etc.), examining potential train schedules, estimating the number of riders and identifying station locations for a range of commuter rail service alternatives between Howell and Ann Arbor.
In the late spring the team evaluated the current track conditions and determined the necessary improvements to ensure a safe, fast, and smooth ride. We also developed draft operating schedules outlining the number of trains per day and their arrival/departure times. The potential number of riders for alternatives under consideration is being estimated using computer modeling programs supplied by both AECOMM and SEMCOG. These programs utilize the proposed train schedule along with census data and information on the existing transportation network as input to estimate ridership. We are currently refining the model runs and will soon be able to share preliminary results.
The team has evaluated numerous sites along the corridor to identify the best locations for passenger stations and maintenance yards. To evaluate these sites, the team conducted a “boots on the ground” field analysis, talked with people in the community and analyzed existing information about each of the potential sites. The site evaluation is considering more than 24 factors (e.g. proximity to roads, site development considerations, zoning, adjacent land use etc.) in order to identify the most appropriate locations for the stations.
All of these activities lead to the issue of the cost of implementing commuter rail service, and we should have those figures soon. One particularly important factor, we are learning, is the cost of complying with Federal regulations regarding Positive Train Control (a system that increases safety by monitoring and controlling train movements).
As we examine these issues, we find that, at first, we have more questions than we have answers. So we are being thorough to make sure we come to the community with as many of the important answers as possible.
The team will go into more detail on these topics at the next community meeting, which we now expect to take place in the fall. Meanwhile, watch this page for the September update!