Amtrak 13 Ridership Continues to Fall – Contradicts City Projections on Growth

The Ann Arbor Amtrak Station’s 2016 calendar year ridership numbers continued to decline. The Wolverine Line running from Detroit to Chicago fell again for the third year in a row. In 2016, total ridership of 122,534 was down from 2015’s 141,558. We acknowledge that track repairs affected the total number of trains during 2016, and will look at data during the coming year to assess the trend. Looking back over the last 10 years, previous ridership gains have now completely disappeared and ridership is now down 12.5% versus 2006’s 140,182 boardings and deboardings.

The current declining ridership trend in Ann Arbor and across the state contradicts the findings of the Ann Arbor Station Environmental Review’s “Purpose and Needs” statement published in May of 2015.

Unfortunately, the Ann Arbor Station Environmental Assessment relied upon

an outdated, 2011 MDOT Rail Ridership Forecast Report, that failed to consider two vital variables: the collapse in oil prices/gasoline prices and the full socio-economic impact of the great recession on the state of Michigan and all the cities along the Wolverine Line.

So, while the study, cites an “almost 70%” increase in ridership growth over the past decade through the end of 2013, those conclusions are already outdated and misleading.

Does Ann Arbor really need a much larger train station, coupled with an intermodal bus facility and an 800+car parking structure? While we tend to agree that improvements can be made to the existing station, especially with the adjacent land available on the north side parking lot and DTE’s publicly stated willingness to collaborate with the city, the proposed size and scale of the new facility now being proposed is based on a ridership growth trajectory that is now way off course, based on actual ridership recorded by MDOT.

[Originally posted April 2, 2017]