Rail & Transit Facts

  • The first electric trolleys in Michigan began service in Port Huron in 1886.
  • Michigan has 15 urban and 58 non urban public transit service providers.
  • The world's longest cable car route wasn't in San Francisco or New York, but in Grand Rapids. Operated by a 32,000-foot-long wire rope running under the street, the cable cars lasted less than two years before proving unworkable in icy weather.
  • Michigan's public bus transit systems carry nearly 89 million passengers per year.
  • The first interurban railroad in Michigan was the Ypsilanti and Ann Arbor line in 1890.
  • Today, 220 Michigan communities are serviced by 180 certified intercity bus carriers.
  • There are 22 Michigan communities serviced by Amtrak and more than 450,000 people each year use the train.
  • MDOT maintains more than 200 commuter parking lots around the state to service carpools, ridesharing, and vanpools.
  • The first functioning railroad in Michigan – the Erie and Kalamazoo Railroad – operated for almost four months with horse-drawn cars while awaiting the delivery of their first locomotive   1837.
  • Michigan has almost 4,000 miles of operating rail track.
  • The railroad bridge over the St. Mary's River at Sault Ste. Marie is the only place in the world where all three principle types of moveable bridges (lift, swing, and bascule) are incorporated into one bridge.
  • Twenty-nine railroads currently operate either wholly or partially in Michigan.
  • Michigan railroads handle almost 94 million tons of cargo per year.
  • Michigan has three Amtrak-operated passenger routes covering 586 miles.
  • The last use of a steam locomotive on a scheduled standard gauge passenger train in the United States was between Durand and Detroit in February, 1960, bringing 130 years of steam railroading to an end in Michigan.
    One of the nation's first and longest lived transportation unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, was founded at Marshall in 1863.
  • One of the nation's first and longest lived transportation unions, the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers, was founded at Marshall in 1863.
  • The Kent, Barry, and Eaton Connecting Railway (the KBE) operated on 42 miles of track between Grand Rapids and Vermontville in 1979. It was Michigan's first African-American owned railroad.
  • The Romanesque style, sandstone Niles Amtrak Intermodal Terminal, built in 1891 and renovated in 1988, has been used in several motion pictures including "Continental Divide" with John Bellushi; "Midnight Run" with John DeNiro; and "Only the Lonely" with John Candy and Maureen O'Sullivan.
  • The railroad tunnel connecting Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, was built of cast iron in a shipyard located in Ecorse. Tunnel segments were floated like barges to the tunnel location, sunk into a trench, bolted together under water, and covered with earth.