Amtrak to allow bicycles on Blue Water line in Michigan
Starting Friday, September 6th, bicycles will be accepted aboard the Amtrak Blue Water (Trains 364 & 365), a service sponsored by the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) that operates daily between Port Huron and Chicago. Michigan bicyclists are encouraged to attend a media event scheduled for 8 am on Thursday, September 5th, at the East Lansing Amtrak Station to unveil the new service.
Uniquely in the Midwest, railcars on the Blue Water have been modified to create an area to securely carry up to four bikes per train on a popular route that serves two large state universities (Michigan State and Western Michigan) and several bicycle-friendly communities. There is a $10 charge for transporting a bike, in addition to the railfare, and cyclists are encouraged to lock their bikes onto the brackets mounted in the café cars when they walk their bicycles on the trains.
"We've worked with the cycling community to modify these railcars so bikes can be secured without disassembly," said Derrick James, Amtrak Director of Government Affairs-Central and an avid cyclist who is one of the Amtrak liaisons to the cycling community. "We look forward to measuring the success of this service with an eye to expansion to additional routes across our national network."
For the past several years, the League of Michigan Bicyclists has pushed Amtrak to allow bicycles on Michigan trains. "LMB worked to ensure that bicyclists were including in the Michigan State Rail Plan, and we delivered a petition that collected over 3,500 signatures urging Amtrak to accommodate bicycles on Michigan service lines," said John Lindenmayer, LMB Advocacy & Policy Director.
The Blue Water line on which bikes are allowed operates daily between Port Huron and Chicago, making stops in New Buffalo, Niles, Dowagiac, Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, East Lansing, Durand, Flint, Lapeer, and Port Huron.
"Bicycle travel and tourism is important in the state of Michigan," said Tim Hoeffner, Director of the MDOT Office of Rail. "Amtrak inclusion of bike service on Blue Water trains is beneficial for Michigan travelers."
The changes are welcomed by the bicycling community.
"The League of Michigan Bicyclists is very pleased at this announcement. We thank Amtrak for listening to the concerns of the bicycling community and appreciate the opportunity to provide feedback on the bike rack designs," said Lindenmayer. "We look forward to the multi-modal transportation opportunities that bikes on trains will provide to Michigan residents and tourists alike and are eager for bicycles to be allowed on Michigan's other two Amtrak lines as well."
The other two Amtrak lines in the state are the Pere Marquette, which connects Chicago with Grand Rapids, and the Wolverine, which connects Detroit to Chicago.