The latest on the AA-Detroit rapid transit line

SEMCOG released cost and ridership estimates for the proposed Ann Arbor to Detroit rapid transit line last month and stated that none were competitive for federal funding. This may be in part because they estimated extremely deluxe service and in part because there are currently no ridership numbers to estimate from (a 50% increase from 0 is still 0).

More details of TRU’s analysis, as well as the entire 2-year process, are available on our new AA-Detroit page.

All is not lost! They are now evaluating
a temporary starter service. They hope to have a very basic commuter rail service running by the end of 2007 with local funding for as cheap as possible. They may lease service from Amtrak to run 3-6 additional train trips each way and supplement train service with expanded bus service.  

One exciting option is that they may include service to Royal Oak, Birmingham and Pontiac, which would add ridership and not significantly increase costs. And who knows – maybe service could extend to Mt. Clemens or Monroe after that! 

Unfortunately, they are not planning to do any significant improvements  to the track, which could lead to slow travel and delayed service. Also, light rail linking from the Detroit train station to downtown is no longer being considered. 

We believe this starter service has great potential to demonstrate high riderinterest and to jump-start serious service, especially if it includes Royal Oak, Birmingham/Troy and Pontiac.  However, if riders have a very negative experience, with trains frequently late or taking far too long, it could backfire and really put the brakes on getting real quality transit to the region.

This starter train must be done right, not just cheap. If you are interested in getting involved with TRU’s efforts to push for a good quality, successful rapid transit line, please contact us at

If you have comments or questions, you can reach SEMCOG at 313-961-4266,, by fax at 313-961-4869 or by mail or in person: 535 Griswold Street, Suite 300, Detroit MI 48226.

More details of TRU’s analysis, as well as the entire 2-year process, are available on our new AA-Detroit page