Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

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Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby NSSD70ACe » Mon Nov 12, 2018 9:49 am

This is a new one. The Grand Rapids Business Journal reported on a study financed by the City of Hudsonville about the feasibility of a commuter train operating between Holland and Grand Rapids, making various stops along Chicago Drive with he end goal of reducing congestion on I-196.

WoodTV Article: https://www.woodtv.com/news/grand-rapid ... 1590614600

GRBJ Article: https://www.grbj.com/articles/91975-rai ... gr-holland (Quoted below)


A commuter train service could be in West Michigan’s future.

A recent study showed a large number of workers commute along I-196 between Grand Rapids and Holland, and a team of stakeholders is determining the best way to improve commutes and draw talent to the region.

The city of Hudsonville, last year, contracted Mp2planning, a consulting firm out of Muncie, Indiana, to gather information on whether such a commuter service — loosely dubbed the West Michigan Express — would be feasible. The study was published in February.

The stretch of I-196, known as the Chicago Drive corridor, that connects Holland to Grand Rapids also runs directly through Zeeland, Hudsonville and Grandville.

Other communities in the corridor that could benefit from a commuter service include Georgetown Township and Wyoming.

The feasibility study showed 14.8 percent of workers in the Holland/Zeeland area commute to Grand Rapids, along with 28.8 percent of workers in the Georgetown Township area, which includes Hudsonville.

Patrick Waterman, manager for the city of Hudsonville, said any kind of commuter service along the highway would be a major talent attractor for the region.

“What we’re hearing among employers is transportation to work is a major barrier,” Waterman said. “Employers are asking, as part of the interview process, ‘Do you have a means of getting to and from work now?’”

The feasibility study identified several factors indicating either a bus or rail system should be considered for the corridor, including:

A strong interest from both public and private entities

A level of growth in the region and corridor leading to the level of trip activity that would justify commuter service

Large employers in the region wishing to attract workers through both transportation and non-transportation-based commodities

Adequate funding may exist through public-private partnerships

The Michigan Department of Transportation is willing to support planning efforts for the project and may be willing to support a pilot project

CSX operates more tracks that are shared with passenger rails than any other carrier in the U.S. and is willing to discuss the possibility of a commuter rail in the Chicago Drive corridor

Waterman said there are well over 20 partner organizations on the project that represent local and state government, nonprofits and private companies.

Other stakeholders included representatives from the Grand Valley Metro Council, the Macatawa Area Coordinating Council, the city of Holland, the city of Zeeland, the city of Grandville, the city of Grand Rapids, The Rapid, MDOT and The Right Place.

Although it’s still uncertain what an express service along Chicago Drive would look like, Waterman said the CSX-owned spur of track along the corridor is a major area of interest. Currently, only five or six cars use the rail.

“Bus is still an option, but rail is kind of our ultimate goal,” Waterman said. “We understand there’s capacity on those tracks to handle much more traffic. The problem is if you have dedicated communter service, you have to invest in safety improvements.”

According to the feasibility study, the cost of improvements to the Chicago Drive rail could range from $8 million to $28 million depending on the level of investment, on top of $1.5 million to $4 million in annual operating costs and $75,000 in administrative fees.

Comparatively, a commuter bus service would cost much less, with $420,000 for three buses, $50,000 for stop improvements, $491,775 in annual operating fees and $37,500 in annual administrative fees.

The study argued bus service had other favorable attributes like flexibility and speedy implementation but also noted a hypothetical rail service could spur community development, particularly development around train stations.

Implementing the track also could reduce traffic congestion along I-196. Tim Mroz, vice president of marketing and communications for The Right Place, said he would prefer the rail be utilized as a permanent solution.

“Almost 27,000-28,000 people commute between there every day,” Mroz said. “Bottom line, you will never have enough lane miles to solve the commuter congestion problem. The only way is to take it off the road.”

Waterman added ownership of the track still is an issue that must be addressed but added MDOT has been in the business of purchasing large lengths of track from the state and may be able to leverage its influence in the case of the Chicago Drive track.

Having determined that an express commuter service is at least feasible, the next challenge for West Michigan Express partners is to gauge the level of ridership they should expect.

The West Michigan Regional Prosperity Initiative recently awarded the project a grant of $25,000 to help answer this question. Waterman said the money would be used to conduct a survey of as many of the major employers along the Chicago Drive line as possible.

The survey is expected to begin within the next month and will be conducted by Hope College’s Frost Research Center. Waterman expected survey results by January.

He also indicated the West Michigan Express could serve as a pilot for other express services along spurs of track going south toward Gerald R. Ford International Airport and east toward Lowell.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby DaveO » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:39 am

While I think this is actually something reasonable to consider it faces one big obstacle.
The current station isn't downtown and there is little feasible way to get a true downtown station.
They need to study how many commuters would be willing to make 2 transfers between transportation modes. I doubt very many.
That means you have to get to the origin station and from the destination station by some means. Short walks are excluded because even if you drove a car downtown, you have to walk at least some distance.

I think the corridor might be viable for a busway if they want to spend some money.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Doktor No » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:52 am

The main driver and key here is HOW MANY PEOPLE WORK IN DOWNTOWN GR anymore? The workforce in Kent County is spread out vs. a central core. So do you get off the train and take the bus to your job wherever that is?
And CSX only has four or five cars on the route? What's that mean? 8 to 28 million to do upgrades? FOR WHAT? MDOT has been buying up right of ways from the state? This story, as I read it in the GRBusiness Journal, needs some serious proofreading.
And I find it amazing that Hudsonville paid for the initial study. This is the city that wouldn't accept federal money for road improvements back in 2009/2010...I think I know why they wouldn't but I'll leave that unsaid.
Down the road they talk of a Central GR to the airport and Lowell to GR.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby J T » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:31 am

So, you hop on the train in Grandville or Hudsonville to go to your job in the Holland area. The train stops at the Holland depot. How then do you get to your job that could easily be several miles away?
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby NS3322 » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:33 pm

Doktor No wrote:Down the road they talk of a Central GR to the airport...


Now, that might just work.

J T wrote:So, you hop on the train in Grandville or Hudsonville to go to your job in the Holland area. The train stops at the Holland depot. How then do you get to your job that could easily be several miles away?


I agree the Holland depot is far away from everything.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Typhoon » Mon Nov 12, 2018 2:56 pm

J T wrote:So, you hop on the train in Grandville or Hudsonville to go to your job in the Holland area. The train stops at the Holland depot. How then do you get to your job that could easily be several miles away?



Does western Michigan not have Uber/Lyft?
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Doktor No » Mon Nov 12, 2018 5:27 pm

Typhoon wrote:
J T wrote:So, you hop on the train in Grandville or Hudsonville to go to your job in the Holland area. The train stops at the Holland depot. How then do you get to your job that could easily be several miles away?



Does western Michigan not have Uber/Lyft?

Yes but they do not have a FLEET as of yet...how many ubers would there need to be to meet a train? A LOT! And where would they park awaiting this train...NO WHERE.
This is a fools errand if there ever was one. Run a train to Kazoo to meet up with the high speed trains...to Chitown and Detroit.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Farmboybello » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:21 pm

Run a train to Kazoo to meet up with the high speed trains...to Chitown and Detroit.


I agree that a commuter train from GR to Kalamazoo would be a great idea but I don't see a feasible way for them to implement this anytime in the future. Surely the Grand Elk is not fit for passenger service without millions of dollars in upgrades.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby J T » Mon Nov 12, 2018 7:25 pm

Typhoon wrote:
J T wrote:So, you hop on the train in Grandville or Hudsonville to go to your job in the Holland area. The train stops at the Holland depot. How then do you get to your job that could easily be several miles away?



Does western Michigan not have Uber/Lyft?

Hundreds of people are going to jump in an Uber or Lyft at the depot to get to and from their Holland area jobs every day?
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Doktor No » Mon Nov 12, 2018 8:15 pm

Farmboybello wrote:
Run a train to Kazoo to meet up with the high speed trains...to Chitown and Detroit.


I agree that a commuter train from GR to Kalamazoo would be a great idea but I don't see a feasible way for them to implement this anytime in the future. Surely the Grand Elk is not fit for passenger service without millions of dollars in upgrades.

Well they want to spend between $8 and $28 million to upgrade (?) a track that's good for 70 plus...spend that 28 million on the 40 miles between GRR and AZO, joining two much bigger cities with a much bigger university and a HIGH speed mainline that connects to more universities and more MEGA cities. Yeah Holland is a great idea...if you are on acid maybe...well gee you can connect Calvin and Hope...yippee!
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby PatAzo » Mon Nov 12, 2018 10:04 pm

Pretending I live in Holland say down near 40th St and I work in "Grand Rapids", Kentwodd actually, I can make my way up to the depot in 8-9 minutes by car. Then wait a few minutes for the train to leave on a 45+ minute ride into downtown, we have to stop in Zeeland and Hudsonville too. Hope off the train and spend an hour on the bus or catch an Uber for a 15+ minute ride out to Kentwood assuming there are that many Uber drivers day after day. All in 70 minutes of travel if the train schedule meets my work schedule exactly Could be and hour and a half or more and the same going home.

I can get in my car take I196 up to the M6 and over to Kentwood and be there in less than 40 minutes. Oh but wait there is "congestion". West Michigan congestion is having to run the speed limit or horror of horrors a few miles an hour less.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Saturnalia » Mon Nov 12, 2018 11:39 pm

This will work great! Trains can pull right into the GR Station from Holland!




oh




wait




nevermind.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Typhoon » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:52 am

J T wrote:
Typhoon wrote:
J T wrote:So, you hop on the train in Grandville or Hudsonville to go to your job in the Holland area. The train stops at the Holland depot. How then do you get to your job that could easily be several miles away?



Does western Michigan not have Uber/Lyft?

Hundreds of people are going to jump in an Uber or Lyft at the depot to get to and from their Holland area jobs every day?


Works in other places, I didn’t realize western Michigan was so unique. If there is enough demand for “ hundreds of people” to ride the train, then yes somehow they will find a way to get people to work. Rideshare would be one piece of that puzzle.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby J T » Tue Nov 13, 2018 11:06 am

Typhoon wrote:Works in other places, I didn’t realize western Michigan was so unique. If there is enough demand for “ hundreds of people” to ride the train, then yes somehow they will find a way to get people to work. Rideshare would be one piece of that puzzle.

"Works in other places" like where?

Give some examples on how it would work in Holland relative to how it works in "other places."
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Typhoon » Tue Nov 13, 2018 12:49 pm

J T wrote:
Typhoon wrote:Works in other places, I didn’t realize western Michigan was so unique. If there is enough demand for “ hundreds of people” to ride the train, then yes somehow they will find a way to get people to work. Rideshare would be one piece of that puzzle.

"Works in other places" like where?


Maybe you should stop climbing trees and go out and watch some commuter trains. You will see the amount of people getting off of the trains and into rideshare cars. Some commuter rail carriers even promote the first mile/last mile trip to/from the train station.

https://metrarail.com/about-metra/newsr ... amed-metra’s-official-rideshare-partner

"We already know that many Chicagoland residents use Uber to get to and from public transit stations during the first or last mile of their commutes."

It is so popular that some stations that have websites post where the designated ride share pickup is
http://unionstation.thisisstatic.co/transit/rideshare
Typhoon wrote: Give some examples on how it would work in Holland relative to how it works in "other places."


You need an example of how ride sharing works? The app is easy to download and navigate, try it yourself. Even go down to the Holland Station to see how easy it can be. Make train noises to yourself if you really want to play pretend.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby NSSD70ACe » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:27 pm

Typhoon wrote:
J T wrote:
Typhoon wrote:Works in other places, I didn’t realize western Michigan was so unique. If there is enough demand for “ hundreds of people” to ride the train, then yes somehow they will find a way to get people to work. Rideshare would be one piece of that puzzle.

"Works in other places" like where?


Maybe you should stop climbing trees and go out and watch some commuter trains. You will see the amount of people getting off of the trains and into rideshare cars. Some commuter rail carriers even promote the first mile/last mile trip to/from the train station.

https://metrarail.com/about-metra/newsr ... amed-metra’s-official-rideshare-partner

"We already know that many Chicagoland residents use Uber to get to and from public transit stations during the first or last mile of their commutes."

It is so popular that some stations that have websites post where the designated ride share pickup is
http://unionstation.thisisstatic.co/transit/rideshare
Typhoon wrote: Give some examples on how it would work in Holland relative to how it works in "other places."


You need an example of how ride sharing works? The app is easy to download and navigate, try it yourself. Even go down to the Holland Station to see how easy it can be. Make train noises to yourself if you really want to play pretend.



Metra isn't the only one. Amtrak has also been promoting a partnership with Lyft since August 2017:

https://media.amtrak.com/2017/08/amtrak ... rtnership/
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Saturnalia » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:31 pm

Typhoon wrote:You need an example of how ride sharing works? The app is easy to download and navigate, try it yourself. Even go down to the Holland Station to see how easy it can be.

Indeed, most civil design for large projects including stations and large event centers now include designated rideshare pickup/dropoff locations. There are even places where cities have been replacing designated taxi stands with rideshare spaces.

Not a good time to be in retail or the taxi business. E-commerce and rideshare is where it's at!

It is worth noting, for all the government's attempts at promoting the use of carpools, private enterprise in the form of ridesharing has done more to this effect than anything the government has ever tried. It isn't even direct carpooling, but it works without government intervention and has actually added income for a lot of people on the economic margins.
Last edited by Saturnalia on Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby J T » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:48 pm

Typhoon wrote:
J T wrote:
Typhoon wrote:Works in other places, I didn’t realize western Michigan was so unique. If there is enough demand for “ hundreds of people” to ride the train, then yes somehow they will find a way to get people to work. Rideshare would be one piece of that puzzle.

"Works in other places" like where?


Maybe you should stop climbing trees and go out and watch some commuter trains. You will see the amount of people getting off of the trains and into rideshare cars. Some commuter rail carriers even promote the first mile/last mile trip to/from the train station.

https://metrarail.com/about-metra/newsr ... amed-metra’s-official-rideshare-partner

"We already know that many Chicagoland residents use Uber to get to and from public transit stations during the first or last mile of their commutes."

It is so popular that some stations that have websites post where the designated ride share pickup is
http://unionstation.thisisstatic.co/transit/rideshare
Typhoon wrote: Give some examples on how it would work in Holland relative to how it works in "other places."


You need an example of how ride sharing works? The app is easy to download and navigate, try it yourself. Even go down to the Holland Station to see how easy it can be. Make train noises to yourself if you really want to play pretend.


Great. Ad hominem attacks by Typhoon. Typical. :roll:

Guess what, Holland ain't Chicago, and hundreds of people aren't going to line up to grab an uber or lyft at the Holland depot for a job outside of the city center after riding a train in from GR or Hudsonville. It's just not practical when it can be done much quicker and cheaper via their own vehicles. Sure, westbound 196 and the business loop can get a little congested at the first Holland exit, but 16th St and M-40 are also options to get around that, all of which would result in someone arriving at their job in a much less time (and expense) than it takes to first drive to the station in GR, ride the train to Holland, and then finally get a ride share to their job.
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby Raildudes dad » Tue Nov 13, 2018 1:57 pm

What makes these folks think this will work here when Ann Arbor can't get the WALLY going or an AA-Detroit commuter train going with a much more dense population corridor?
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Re: Holland to GR Commuter Train Study

Unread postby PatAzo » Tue Nov 13, 2018 2:22 pm

The measure if it would or wouldn't work is more than establishing the service and some number of people riding it. What problem is it solving? What value does it add relative to cost?

Congestion? I looked this morning and a commute by car Holland to Grand Rapids was 39 minutes. Mid morning it was 35 minutes. Lunch time 35 minutes. Sure 196 out to 44th St gets busy but how many people are really going to complicate their commute by taking the train for four added minutes of drive time?

People get asked on interviews if they have transportation. Do we all really have to foot the bill for rail service so people can live in a different city than they work?
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