Monday, November 17, 2008

Ann Arbor Transet Authority to run WALLY

The Ann Arbor Transit Authority AATA will serve as the designated for the The Ann Arbor to Howell communter rail project. A coalition of government and business leaders and other interested groups and individuals has worked for more than two years to develop a commuter rail project -- the Washtenaw and Livingston Line -WALLY- to this point.

In order for the project to move forward, a more formal organization was needed to pursue and receive funding, negotiate agreements and coordinate implementation of the commuter rail plan.
In response to requests from local and county officials involved in the coalition, the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority has agreed to serve as the designated authority for the WALLY commuter rail project.

Where does the name WALLY come from?
The name WALLY is short for the Washtenaw and Livingston Line. The end-points for the service (Ann Arbor and Howell) are located in Washtenaw and Livingston counties. WALLY service will operate between Ann Arbor, Michigan and Howell, Michigan. WALLY will serve communities along the rail line including Whitmore Lake, Hamburg, and Chilson.
The exact locations of stations will be determined during the planning of the service.

Will the WALLY service be operated by AATA?
The service will be operated by a railroad operator under contract to AATA.
The WALLY is commuter rail, which means that it can share tracks with freight trains.
Light Rail requires a dedicated right of way.

How much will the WALLY cost to build?
The planning process that is underway will establish construction costs through an analysis of needed improvements. There are many alternatives that need to be considered to determine the most cost effective plan for making improvements. Preliminary estimates from R. L. Banks, a leading passenger rail consulting firm, stated that capital costs will be $32 million dollars.
How much will the WALLY cost to operate?
The planning process that is underway is considering a variety of alternatives for operations. perating costs will be known after the conclusion of this process. There are several sources of possible federal and state grant funds available for capital improvements (which includes rolling equipment, stations, and track). Most operating funds will have to come primarily from fares and local sources due to the limited availability of grants for operations.

What is AATA's role in moving WALLY forward?
The AATA will work with communities along the WALLY route, MDOT, Great Lakes Central, and other partners to create a plan for developing and operating the service. AATA will also apply for and distribute federal and state grant funds and ensure that the service meets federal and state transportation requirements. An evaluation study conducted by R.L. Banks and Associates concluded that, under optimistic circumstances, service on the commuter rail system might be initiated within a 16-month period, but that the timeline is "highly subject to change, depending on priorities, ease/difficulty in obtaining funding and in decisions by other parties beyond WALLY's control."

What will the fare be to ride WALLY?
Due to the preliminary nature of operating costs it is difficult to determine an exact fare amount.
Fares will be competitive with driving and parking costs.

How long will it take to get from Howell to Ann Arbor?
The travel time is currently estimated at 37 minutes between Ann Arbor and Howell.

For more see The Visit for Ann Arbor real estate and community information

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