All posts by Michael Lamb

Friends of WALLY at two events this weekend

photo 1 (9)Ann Arbor Fair 2015

Looking for something to do this weekend? Join the Friends of WALLY at the 16th Annual Ann Arbor Green Fair and Marion Township Heritage Days both this weekend.  The Ann Arbor Green fair is downtown Ann Arbor on Friday June 10 from 6pm to 9pm.  Here is their link with more information. The Marion Township Heritage Days is Saturday and Sunday June 11 and 12 from 9am to 4pm at Marion Township Complex at 2877 W Coon Lake Road.  Here is a link with for more information.  Our volunteers would be happy to answer questions about WALLY or any other questions about public transportation.


A Vision for Transportation for Livingston County

The Livingston County Transportation Coalition published the following plan to improve the county’s transportation system.



  • Fully serve the transit dependent who live in and visit Livingston County – seniors, disabled, those without a car
  • Provide regular scheduled bus or train service between major destinations in and near Livingston County (employment, health care, education, airport, entertainment, . . .)
  • Stimulate economic development and property value in our county.
  • Increase the livability and vitality of our region through an array of transportation options, including auto, bus, train, bicycle and walking.

Current state of transportation – Livingston County

  • The Livingston EssentialTransportation Service (LETS) provides dial-a-ride (paratransit) service that meets a fraction of the needs of the transit dependent.  Other organizations, such as senior centers, Catholic Charities and LOVE, INC, serve many others, yet the needs of many others go unmet.
  • There is no scheduled bus service in the county, and some businesses are having difficulty getting workers to their locations.
  • There is no commuter rail service to destinations near our county or beyond.
  • There is an emerging bicycle network in southern Livingston County, but, in general, the environment for walking and bicycling around the county is “unfriendly” and in many areas dangerous
  • LETS exists as a department of the County instead of a transit authority. As such, it is unable to seek dedicated funding streams from the citizens.
  • Our Metropolitan Planning Organization (SEMCOG) has allocated several hundred thousands of federal dollars for expanded LETS services, but it will go unspent because of the lack of local match


Continue reading A Vision for Transportation for Livingston County

Friends of WALLY needs YOUR help!!!!

Dear Friends of WALLY,

Your Friends of WALLY Outreach Committee have come up with some great opportunities to spread the word to folks all around Livingston County about the advantages of the proposed commuter rail line between Howell and Ann Arbor, with intermediate stops in Genoa Township, Hamburg and Whitmore Lake.  You already know at least some of the benefits of Wally to our county.   Please help get the word to out to our friends and neighbors.

We are asking each member to volunteer two hours of your time this season to help staff a table at one of the events on the attached list.  All you have to do is show up at the designated time, greet people with a smile and hand out literature.  We will team you with a more experienced volunteer who can handle  questions you feel you can’t answer.  We think you will find your time enjoyable, rewarding and well spent.

Please e-mail Hugh Gurney at with the event, date and time slot you can fill.  While we are asking everyone to contribute two hours of your time, we welcome your participation at multiple events for up to four hours at a time.

If you know of other events at which you think we should be present, please let us know.

Thanks so much for helping make Wally a reality and not just a dream.

Your Outreach Committee,
Friends of WALLY

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Continue reading Friends of WALLY needs YOUR help!!!!

Friends of WALLY meeting

Join us at the next Friends of WALLY meeting.  At the meeting we will be mapping out our plans the coming year. If you have ideas, we could use them.  The meeting will be at the Howell Carnegie District Library form 1pm to 3pm on Saturday April 2, 2016.  In the Conference room which is back of the library on Clinton Street. The address of the library is 314 W Grand River Ave, Howell, MI 48843.

Those who are unable to attend we will set-up a phone conferencing for the meeting.  If you want phone conferencing please let me know.  My email is and phone number of 517-896-5275.

WALLY logo


North South Commuter Rail Study Update

Below is an update of the North South Commuter Rail  or WALLY Study  just published.

Hello followers of the North-South Commuter Rail Study!

Over the past two months, the project team has been evaluating data and planning the next steps of the study. To date our efforts have focused on services that run train sets into Ann Arbor in the morning and back out to various destinations in the evening during the peak travel hours. We have been evaluating preliminary capital and operating cost estimates, ridership forecasts, and potential station locations. We have been collaborating with the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG) and the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study (WATS) to ensure this data is consistent with regional transportation planning models. During the coming months we will continue to make refinements to our work.

The majority of our effort to date has focused on previously identified options that range in the level of service. In the next few months will focus on exploring some additional options that could provide commuter rail service in this corridor. We anticipate some of the new options may be ruled out quickly while others will go through a level of analysis similar to initial options. We look forward to continuing our work in 2016 and sharing findings with you in the Spring.

An S-bahn of Washtenaw’s Own

The following is an article by Larry Krieg, PhD.


Imagine the following scenario: It’s 2020 and Avery has just purchased her first home in Whitmore Lake. Avery wanted to buy in the City of Ann Arbor, but graduate school debt combined with Ann Arbor’s prohibitively expensive housing market made it impossible for her to settle in her hometown. Although Avery looked at a number of other bedroom communities such as Manchester, Saline, and Salem, she loved the idea of taking a train to work each morning, and Whitmore Lake was one of the only communities that offered commuter transit. During Avery’s Junior Year of college she studied abroad in Germany and lived in a suburb of Berlin, taking the S-bahn into the City each morning. Avery loved the extra time she gained by riding the train and maximized it by doing homework or catching up with friends on social media. Now a new homeowner, Avery can’t wait to start riding WALLY to work each day, and hopes that it will be as efficient as the S-bahn she relied on when she studied abroad in Germany.

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Much like our fictional Avery, I also had an opportunity to ride the S-bahn. In May 2014 I visited Germany with the purpose of maximizing my exposure to their efficient public transit systems. Without the use of a car I comfortably traveled within and between Munich, Berlin, and Rostock. In Germany, most public rail transit is categorized as either U-bahn, S-bahn, Regional Service, or Intercity Service. I was fortunate to experience each tier of service during my trip. In Berlin and Munich I rode on the U-bahn which provided rapid transit service within the city, and in Berlin and Rostock I rode the S-bahn which provided rapid transit service between the city and its suburbs. I also took a Regional Service train between Berlin and Rostock, and took an Intercity train between Berlin and Munich.

The proposed WALLY line would function most like Germany’s S-bahn system, connecting the suburbs to a main city and economic hub. “S-bahn” is short for “Stadtschnellbahn” which means “city rapid railway”, and was first introduced in its modern form in Berlin in 1930. Prior to 1930, sections of the S-bahn existed, but were powered by steam locomotive until 1926 when electrification of the lines occurred. The component of Berlin’s S-bahn system that I was best acquainted with is called the Berlin Ringbahn which forms a double-tracked ring around the city center. However, the S-bahn system I rode that most closely resembles the proposed WALLY line is Rostock’s S-bahn.

2 photo for Larry articel4 photo for Larry Artcle

Rostock is located approximately 150 miles north of Berlin, has a population of 203,431, and a density of 2,904 people per square mile. The city is famous for having one of the oldest universities in the world, the University of Rostock, founded in 1419, and its economy is based in maritime industries, biomedical high-tech, education, and tourism. Let’s take a minute to compare it with Ann Arbor… Ann Arbor has an estimated population of 117,770, and a density of 4,103 people per square mile. Ann Arbor is famous for the University of Michigan, the oldest university in Michigan, founded in 1817. Ann Arbor’s economy is based on education and biomedical high-tech. Although Ann Arbor’s population is a little more than half the size of Rostock’s, it is also twice as dense which improves the operating efficiency of public transit. Rostock’s S-bahn system has three lines, 26 stations, and spans 56 miles. By comparison, WALLY would have one line, seven stations, and would span approximately 40 miles, terminating in the City of Howell which has an estimated population of 9,505.

During my stay, I primarily used Rostock’s S-bahn to travel between the Parkstrasse Station in the City of Rostock and Warnemunde, a suburban Baltic Sea resort of fish restaurants and quaint cottages with a population of 8,441 people. I never had to wait long for the train, since it came every 15 minutes. On the train, I once found myself sitting next to a middle-aged commuter dressed in a business suit reading a newspaper, and later next to a group of three college friends hoisting duffel bags filled with camping supplies. I also observed what appeared to be a group of middle schoolers on some sort of class excursion, and various families trying to keep young children entertained. The train cars themselves were very clean, upholstered in bright blue, and equipped with real-time intelligent transportation system (ITS) technology that showed arrival and departure times for S-bahn stops. Although relatively full, the cars were not over-crowded, and there were popular in-car storage spaces for bicycles. I was privileged to ride on Rostock’s brand-new electric Bombardier Talent 2 train cars which were completely phased in by 2014. Prior to this Rostock used push-pull trains with double-decker cars.

I’m not delusional enough to think that WALLY’s headways, coverage, rolling stock, or multi-modal integration will be comparable to what I experienced on Rostock’s exemplary S-bahn system. However, Rostock’s system shows us that a suburban commuter train can be extremely viable given the Ann Arbor region’s population, density, and economy, if only we can find the political and financial capital to implement it. And when that happens, our region will be able to retain more talented young people like our fictional heroine Avery

Minutes Friends of WALLY Meeting February 27, 2016

  • People Attended: Shelia L., Steve M., Nick P., Mary L., Clark C., and Michael L.
  • Friends of WALLY (FoW) Update by Michael L. – Monthly newsletter has 488 subscribers and 390 Likes of Facebook.
  • Outreach Update by Mary L. – It was agree that the FoW should have a table at the next Community Connect. Also, a table at the Ann Arbor Mayor’s Green Fair.   Clark C. said he is renting a table and the FoW could have some space on the table.
  • Transportation Coalition Update by Mary L. and Steve M. – The Livingston County Transportation Coalition is developing a vision statement. Here is a link to the draft statement.  Steve and Mary asked us to review it and email in comments to them.
  • MARP holding meeting in Howell – The Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers March meeting will begin at 10 am on 12 March at Cleary’s Pub, 117 East Grand River Ave. An over view of WALLY will be given.  All are welcome.
  • Other Updates
    • Coast to Coast Report is out. A number of issues were talked about in the report including projected demand and costs.   For example the section between Howell and Ann Arbor has a projected capital cost of $43 million.  Here is a link.
    • Livingston County Master Plan by Shelia L – Glenn Pape, MSU Extension Educator review the basics of master plans and planning.  He reviewed the outline of the project.  It was agreed that the FoW should attend public meeting to support WALLY and the Livingston County Transportation Coalition vision statement.
  • Ann Arbor Connector by Clark C. The Ann Arbor Connector would create a light rail transit system that will connect downtown to medical centers. Central Campus to North Campus. Plymouth Road to Main Street shops.  The reason for light rail and not busses is because the light rail can transport more people at a lower cost.
  • Next meeting is April 2 at 1:00 PM, Howell Public Library
  • Announcements none

The Coast-to-Coast Rail Study is Out

This post originally appeared on Michigan Environmental Council’s website here.

The Coast-to-Coast Passenger Rail Ridership and Cost Estimate Study is complete—marking the first milestone toward re-establishing passenger rail service between Michigan’s major cities of Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids. This exploratory study provides a working understanding of the ridership potential and costs associated with operating passenger rail service.
LARGEMAP_Coast to Coast Route Options_Final
Key findings:

  • The results of the ridership and cost analyses support further study on Route 1 and Route 2. Route 1 has the highest ridership, while Route 2 has the greatest return on investment.
  • Establishing basic 79-mph service on the 186-mile Route 2 would require an annual subsidy of approximately $3 million and an upfront capital investment of $130.9 million. While 110-mph service would require a greater capital investment, higher ridership would allow the service to recover its operating expenses, and in fact could generate more than $12 million in annual profits on Route 2.
  • The next major step will be to complete a full feasibility study, which should include environmental impact analyses, an implementation plan and a review of public-private partnership options.

2030 Subsidy / Surplus by Option

Operating SurplusSubsidy
For years, Michigan Environmental Council (MEC) has been a major proponent expanding passenger rail options in Michigan. From leading a major public engagement effort to gather feedback on the Michigan State Rail Plan in 2010, to co-founding Michigan By Rail, a statewide coalition with the goal to expand passenger rail options in the state, MEC advocates for improved and expanded passenger rail options to protect the environment and enhance economic prosperity in communities across the state.

The 2011 Michigan State Rail Plan includes recommendations for studying service between Detroit, Lansing and Grand Rapids, which was discontinued in 1971. Through a partnership between the Michigan Department of Transportation, the Ann Arbor Area Transportation Authority and the Michigan Association of Railroad Passengers, MEC took the lead on the first step of service development by initiating and managing this study.

Interested? Download the report below and sign-on to our list of supporters to receive updates and information about how to get involved.