Ann Arbor - Detroit Regional Rail Project Meeting

The Ypsilanti City Planning commission held a meeting tonight where some presentations were made about the proposed Ann Arbor - Detroit Regional Commuter Rail, which has on it a stop in Ypsilanti. The following are my raw notes --- I may flesh them out more later, but I'm also a lazy bum and we know how that works.

Ann Arbor - Detroit Regional Rail Project Meeting
Ypsilanti City Hall
18 March 2009

Part of the Plannng Commission meeting

Next city council meeting re. Water Street
 next tues, 7pm, senior center?
= Presentation =

Carmine Columbo, trans and ops at SEMCOG

working with MDOT to start service tracks using will be the ones pontiac to
chicago high speed rail uses?

stops in a2, ypsi, DTW, dearborn, detroit tracks owned by freight rr: Norfolk
southern, conrail, CN have to coordinate with them going to add to amtrak
service, not change it one of the conditions rr's have, whatever we do can not
have neg impact on frieght operations on the other hand, want to use tracks for
passenger when they aren't being used for freight asked rr's to identify costs
and projects to do, for 4, 8 and 15 round trips a day we have info for NS info,
close to CN (they are eastern part, East of Dearborn to Detroit) cn was only
going to give us 2, we think we have 4 and maybe more, will know in coming
weeks When they have info, will host meeting for all communities SEMCOG will
have real cost info once CN finishes their part Gov has made it clear she wants
the train, she wants to ride before term is over, target end of oct, begin of
nov 2010 for begin operation of service likely start with 4 round trips a day
during week, 3/day weekends want to structure agreements with RRs to tie future
additional trains to additional investment in the corridor Looking down the
road, it isn't just a single project, but there's already talk of future
networks private stuff in Detroit doing some sort of light rail ending where
this is probably going to end jackson wants it to extend to them places want it
to go north to pontiac some reps want it to go to some other place north
working with mdot and a group that wants to go from toledo so they have access
to DTW Bumps along road: funding, but we think stimulus will provide some/or
all of capital cost 8bill in stim is for high speed rail corridors, of which
this is one Operating costs: entirely different issue, fed. dollars typically
do not cover this, will need to be born by state and local communities that
want it there are several businesses that when semcog can answer certain
questions they want to participate Everyone semcog has mentioned it to hasn't
backed away but it is not a done deal from that perspective as well but have
every confidence the project will proceed and along timelime Gov has set


* what would daily schedule look like?
** have to fit around freight schedule 
** looks to be 55 trip end to end 
** 7 or 8 am 
** 3 or 4 pm 
** would like to get later trip, there's a lot of opportunities for 
entertainment stuff that would draw later night train 
** prolly 2 trains an hour apart in morning, same in evening 
*** two trainsets

* Will we be using amtrak to operate at first, and will we outgrow it?
** Yes, and most likely 
** when we started process, didn't have legislative auth or operator. 
mdot will be operator until we get legislative authority (to
have a local authority) 
** been talking a lot to grand rapids, they have some
service, but they don't have authority, working with them to get state to work
something out

* Based on start date of oct 2010, when would physical work here in ypsi need
* to start
** when have RR stuff, will know what we need to do 
** prolly early in 2010 
two things on critical path 
*** getting cars, we do have funds for cars 
*** negotiations with RRs to have operating agreements with them, started with NS,
hope to start with other two soon 
** SEMCOG will provide platform, ADA acceptable, 250ft long approx, have in 
writing from freight rrs that there is no additional cost from their perspective
if the station were on one side of the other 
*** looking to city to make decision on where it should be 
*** there aren't any cost points on side that would influence decision

* Is there anything in their planning for circulator vehicle
** have talked to AATA to give semcog best estimate on cost to provide
additional service to each station ** this line needs to be fed, and needs to
be fed with better service than what is there is now, will be working to make
that happen, multimodal solutions for getting people to station 
** some guy on mayor's 2020 commission, has research on some thinking on trolly (!!) service
in city, gave that guy the info, they have proposed route 
*** they want it to start at depot, emu, hamilton to spring street, continue river street on to
water street at ach plant so trolly could connect 
*** guy has opinions that platform should be where the depot is now (west side of tracks) 
*** also talked about some kiosks thingies

* Have to work around freight schedule, how much line is single track
** some is, some isn't, will need crossovers, improve signal/safety systems,
add sidings 
** these are one-time capital costs will be borne out by that 
** we will do certain improvements to get to 4 round trips, a certain number to get
to next level, etc. will be contractural issue 
** delays on amtrak due to freight issues...  
*** they are mostly east coming from Chicago 
*** commuter rail needs to run on time, contracts will have clauses to demand certain ontime
*** also due to spare equipment, etc. this has a smaller area to have to
have that stuff in.

* Estimate for yearly operations costs at this point?
** Not one comfortable giving, 7 - 10 mill/yr is rough 
** things negotiating with rrs could change it 
** No estimate on capital costs until hear from rrs

* If certain parts of the route are more heavily used, could there be more runs
* for those
** Yes, will have to look at as it is operated 
** May be able to tweak schedule, or add cars, or skip stops 
** May be able to add trains as well as ridership demands that

* Historically, what is the const. for freight schedules?
** Seems to be fairly consistent, RRs have built in some growth to capacity, no
idea how much 
** At end of day, we really want freight on one track and us on
our own track 
** this dance with RRs is to build another track in stages as we
are building service, when you get to 8 trains a day we really want to be on
our own tracks anyways 
** we just have to do it in stages

* Spoke about platform didn't say anything about stations or kiosks
** gameplan is to try to sell tickets online, at city hall, ticket machines at
** depending if there is conductor then may be able to sell on-train
** want to keep costs as low as they can

* Estimate station costs 1/2mill each
** things like station, where admin boundries are, operation, contracts will
have to be developed

Staff Presentation

* Staff has been talking to SEMCOG as they get details about what city needs to
* do/figure out What SEMCOG really needs from city is piece of dirt for station
* Depot Town is clearest choice
** clear, flat piece of track, publically controlled land both sides

City things to consider independently
* zoning and site plan requirements ped and bike circulation and safety
** from surrounding areas/neighborhood 
** parking 
** asked semcog to have at-grade rail crossing discussion with NS 
** bike parking at station and neighborhood 
** several comments about taking bikes on trains or leaving safely
at platform
* coordination with AATA for circulator service
** at least in intermediate area, need to consider a place for a bus to sit
* parking
** make sure parking in depot town can handle longer term parking as well as
space for depot town usage
* traffic flow within bus. district, how much has to cross tracks themselves,
* have to make sure not clogging streets longer term: spinoff investment
* potential as for immediate issue of where semcog puts tracks, we do have
* option to put on either side of tracks

Public Comment Section
* Statement from FOYF Ticket cost: $1.50 - $1.75 station to station, $6 through
* whole thing, very very initial number