Seamless multi-modal connections are essential to a sustainable 21st century transportation system. It should be easy for travelers to make connections from one mode of transportation to another to easily and safely link trips. One great example is the potential for train travelers to travel from community to community and then bicycle to their final destinations.
Many Amtrak routes across the county offer roll-on bike service allowing passengers to bring a bicycle on board train cars without having to check them as boxed luggage. Unfortunately, no Michigan Amtrak lines currently allow for bicycles on board, nor checked as luggage, including the Blue Water, Wolverine, and the Pere Marquette. The Wolverine & Blue Water routes normally use the same train equipment as Downstate Illinois Service and the Missouri River Runner, both of which allow for bicycles on trains.
Our state is home to a number of bicycle tours in or near Michigan communities serviced by Amtrak. By adding bike facilities on Amtrak trains, many Michigan communities could benefit from increased tourism spending, particularly from vacationing Chicago residents. Without options to bring bicycles on board, Michigan is losing out on significant travel-related spending generated by bicycle tourism. In addition, commuters traveling within Michigan would also have additional transportation options.
In addition, the recently adopted Michigan State Rail Plan makes the clear recommendation that bicycles need to be accommodated on Michigan passenger trains:
“Michigan has seen a large increase in the use of bicycles in recent years. Bicycle tourism is a rapidly growing industry, and Michigan has an extensive network of trails that help bring cyclists into the states. Residents are also using bicycles as a mode of transportation. Special accommodations need to be made both to the train equipment and to stations to make rail service more accessible to people who are traveling with bicycles. When appropriate and feasible, older rail cars should be retrofitted and new rail cars should be built to accommodate bicycles through on board bike racks. Provisions for both short and long-term bike parking should be made at passenger rail stations across the state.”