TRANSIT: MDOT delays Amtrak passenger cars purchase

The Michigan Department of Transportation has delayed the purchase of a new set of Amtrak passenger cars

March 25, 2015

The Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) is looking to replace the aging passenger cars on its three Amtrak routes between Detroit and Chicago. The proposed plan to purchase new cars has been met with criticism based on a prior unused purchase of another set of cars.

A state audit last month criticized MDOT for leasing and refurbishing a separate set of passenger cars for a proposed commuter service between Detroit and Ann Arbor, which has yet to be implemented.  The startup for the proposed project has been delayed until 2017. 

The state has spent $9.5 million leasing the cars that are idle and being stored on a siding near Owosso, Mich.

The criticism came after MDOT proposed a  $58-million budget plan to purchase the “next generation” passenger cars to replace the aging fleet used on three Amtrack routes. The upgraded cars include amenities such as, Wi-Fi and roll-on-and-off bike racks.

Lang, senior director of national state relations for Amtrak in Chicago, said these kinds of improvements are boosting ridership and revenue. The annual subsidy the rail corporation is seeking from Michigan in 2016 is $23 million, down $2 million from the current budget year, he said.