(This editorial appeared January 14 in The Michigan Daily.) Any new infrastructure that will help the environment, students or the economy is an opportunity that should be taken advantage of. And a new construction plan funded by the federal government encompasses all three of these categories. The new public transportation - a railroad that will run between Ann Arbor and Detroit with stops in the neighboring areas - will benefit students and residents as they move between Ann Arbor and Detroit, for business and pleasure, without excessive cost. This new route of transportation is easy, cheap and environmentally-friendly and officials from both cities should do everything possible to ensure that the plans come to fruition.
In December, the federal
budget allocated $3.5 million dollars for the construction of a rail system
that will be built between Ann Arbor and Detroit. The rail line plans would
stop along the way in Dearborn – the site of a University satellite campus –
Ypsilanti and Detroit Metro Airport. The cost of a round-trip ticket is
projected at about $6 or $7. Though some progress is expected to be made by
October, the budget for the train has not yet been finalized.
The train would be good
news for the economies of Ann Arbor and Detroit. With people able to move
easily and cheaply between the two cities, there is the potential for an
increase of new consumers in both markets. Students and area residents would be
able to go to Detroit more frequently, increasing patronage to city businesses
and entertainment like sporting events and concerts. In turn, residents from
the Detroit area would be able to travel to Ann Arbor for the extensive art and
And the new rail line
should decrease the amount of highway commuter traffic between the cities.
According to Ann Arbor City Councilman Carsten Hohnke (D-Ward 5), roughly 60 to
70 thousand commuters travel to Ann Arbor by car every year. The planned rail
system would drastically cut that number. And fewer cars on the road would mean
lower carbon emissions. The proposed railway would offer a cheaper, more
environmentally-friendly option for commuters who work in both cities.
The train will also help
University students to make the trip to Detroit. Detroit offers many learning
experiences for students. The many University-run outreach courses and student
volunteer programs offered each semester would flourish under this expansion,
which would make travel between the cities cheaper and hassle-free. And, with
greater access to new forms of transportation, additional outreach classes with
greater student involvement could be added and explored in each department.
And the University’s
large out-of-state student population would have another affordable
transportation option to reach Detroit Metro Airport. Out-of-state students can’t
always be accommodated by the Michigan Student Assembly-sponsored AirBus, which
only runs a limited number of days surrounding University breaks. The train
would offer students another option for about the same price. And though the
stops for Ann Arbor haven’t yet been determined, the University and MSA should
work with city officials to ensure students have easy access to the train.
The construction of a rail
line between Ann Arbor and Detroit should help encourage travel between the
cities in an environmentally-friendly way. The train would also encourage
economic ventures in both cities, and Ann Arbor and Detroit officials should
make sure it happens for the benefit of both cities.