Amtrak 4 Ridership Demand is Falling – Contradicts City’s Projections on Growth

The Ann Arbor Amtrak Station’s 2015 calendar year ridership numbers for the Wolverine Line running from Detroit to Chicago fell again for the second year in a row. In 2015, total ridership of 141,344 was about equal with 2007’s 141,558. So there has been ZERO ridership growth for the last 8 years at the Ann Arbor Amtrak station.

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 last year.

Unfortunately, the Environmental Review relied upon an outdated, 2011 MDOT Rail Ridership Forecast Report, that failed to take into account two vital variables: the collapse in oil prices/gasoline prices and the full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“almost 70%” increase in ridership growth over the past decade through the end of 2013, those conclusions are already outdated and misleading.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.

References: pose_and_Need.pdf , p. 3, Exhibit 1.2, Ann Arbor Station Ridership

[Originally posted March 2, 2016]