EAST LANSING, MICH.—Civic leaders and residents gathered on Oct. 3, 2016 to formally cut the ribbon on the city’s new Capital Area Multi Modal Gateway, which conveniently brings together Amtrak Blue Water (Chicago-Kalamazoo-Port Huron) trains, intercity and Capital Area Transportation Authority (CATA) buses and bike-sharing. The facility, operated by CATA, is located on the western edge of the Michigan State University (MSU) campus and is easily accessible from Interstate 496. Speakers at the dedication included Mayor Mark Meadows and Tim Hoeffner, director of the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) Office of Rail.
As travelers arrive at the Multi Modal Gateway, they are greeted by a landscaped greenspace that provides a beautiful vista of the building. Walls of glass are set in an interesting pattern that delights the eye while also allowing natural light to flood the station interior. A wide roof overhang protects travelers from inclement weather. The interior includes ticketing desks, a seating area, restrooms and space for concessions. Canopies cover the bus bays adjacent to the building. There is also ample on-site parking.
Increasing ridership in the 2000s led East Lansing and MSU officials to contemplate the construction of a larger, modern facility better able to accommodate present and future ridership needs. Partnering together, CATA, the city and university won a $6.28 million grant in 2012 for a new multimodal facility through the Federal Transit Administration’s Bus and Bus Facilities Livability Initiative.
In addition to the federal funds, the project was supported by MDOT through a $500,000 match. MSU also contributed approximately $3.2 million through the long-term lease of the property occupied by the multimodal center. Construction began in summer 2014 and lasted approximately one year, with bus operators moving to the facility in fall 2015. Amtrak began serving the station in January 2016.
The Blue Water service is financed primarily through funds made available by MDOT. In fiscal year 2015 (FY15), more than 65,000 customers began or ended their journey at the East Lansing station, which is served by two daily trains. Overall, nearly 181,000 customers used the Blue Water service in FY15.
Photos courtesy of the Michigan Department of Transportation Photo Unit.