Pere Marquette Silver Anniversary Celebration

Pere Marquette Silver Anniversary Celebration


[music]>>NARRATOR: Rail supporters, along with local and state officials, celebrated 25 years of passenger rail service between Grand Rapids and Chicago on Amtrak’s Pere Marquette line August 5, 2009. To commemorate the silver anniversary, there were ceremonies prior to regularly scheduled train departures in the cities of Grand Rapids, Holland, Bangor, and St. Joseph/Benton Harbor, the four stops along the Pere Marquette route. At each city, local mayors and other city leaders, as well as federal and state officials, had a chance to talk about the importance of passenger rail service in west Michigan.>>VERNON EHLERS: “Well, I think it’s very important, especially the Grand Rapids connection. Grand Rapids is a major entity, it’s a big city. Lots of jobs, lots of people here. And much of our work travels on to Chicago.”>>NARRATOR: State Transportation Director Kirk Steudle explained that MDOT is proud to play a role in bringing Amtrak service to Michigan. It is one of two state-supported routes in the state.>>KIRK STEUDLE: “I think passenger rail service in a community says a lot about that community. It says you’re unique. Not every city can claim that they have passenger rail service. It also helps drive their local economy. Businesses tend to create and establish around the stations.”>>NARRATOR: Amtrak provided a Superliner train for the special event, including a double-decker lounge car and three coaches. Passengers received special treats to commemorate the anniversary and had an opportunity to win free round-trip tickets at each stop. In Holland, Mayor Al McGeehan welcomed early risers in the Tulip City.>>AL MCGEEHAN: “It’s a wonderful day in the neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day!”>>SALLY LAUKITIS: “Our offices really enjoyed working with the West Train Collaborative. The newly launched MiTrain dot com Web site is proving to be a great tool for us because Chicago is one of our biggest tourism markets.”>>NARRATOR: In Bangor, the depot, built by the former Pere Marquette Railroad in 1926, was restored in 2005.>>KEN RATZLAFF: “We see the value of the rail service. We have an average of, oh, 15 people that get on and off seven days a week. It’s added a coffee shop to this town, it’s caused us to build the train station, and we feel it’s bringing in thousands into our little town.” >>RICHARD SOUTHERBY: “We’re all trying to do some green things and be more efficient. You know, we’ve went to smaller automobiles and stuff. And certainly the train is really a green thing for us. It only takes one gallon of diesel fuel to haul a whole trainload of produce or whatever.”>>NARRATOR: St. Joseph/Benton Harbor is known locally as the Twin Cities. It is the last stop in Michigan before the train heads to Chicago. >>BOB JUDD: “Passenger rail service to our community is very important for at least two reasons. One is to provide an opportunity for residents of the community to travel to Chicago or to travel to Grand Rapids. Particularly to Chicago because a lot of people like to appreciate the relative closeness of Chicago, but driving and parking is a challenge, so Amtrak is a great alternative. Secondly, and in growing importance, is the ability for people in Chicago and Grand Rapids to come to St. Joe.>>PAT MOODY: “Having Amtrak in southwest Michigan, to me, and specifically to the cities of St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, is a critical aspect of our public infrastructure. It’s the last bastion of public transit that we have in this area. We don’t have commercial air service. We don’t have commercial bus service as such, except for Dial-a-Ride types of deliveries, so it is truly an intercity transit system that we desperately need.”>>NARRATOR: From 2002 to 2008, Amtrak ridership in Michigan has grown by 60 percent. Last year, 110,000 riders took the Pere Marquette. Congratulations, west Michigan on 25 years of being onboard! [music]

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