N-S Rail (WALLY) Past Studies, News and Reports

A number of studies performed in the past have contributed to the present status of the N-S Commuter Rail Project. Some of the major efforts are listed below:

Lansing to Detroit Passenger Rail Study; Capitol Area Transportation Authority; June 1999

The concept of a Lansing-Detroit rail passenger service began with the idea that a commuter train was needed to serve GM employees whose workplace had been relocated from Detroit to Lansing. The concept evolved over time to a passenger rail service that could broadly meet the needs of commuter, business and recreational traveler’s moving in both directions between Lansing and Detroit. This study became the precursor to the N-S Rail (WALLY) studies that began in 2006, and helped lead to the re-emergence of studies of the E-W (Ann Arbor-Detroit) commuter rail service.


Ann Arbor News, Opinion; “Commuter train may be a way to unclog US-23”; June 26, 2006


Ann Arbor News; “Passenger rail idea has powerful advocate”; October 29, 2006 


Mayor’s Model for Mobility; June 26, 2006

In June 2006, Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje introduced his "Model for Mobility," a transportation vision for the City of Ann Arbor. Key elements of this transportation vision include alternative forms of transportation such as walking and bicycling, but also expand on the City's bus, rail and train system to support a more regional mode of mobility and reduce Ann Arbor's over reliance on auto travel.

 The Model for Mobility outlined three key components:

  • The East-West Regional Commuter Rail service (Ann Arbor - Detroit Commuter Rail Project), including planning for a new Ann Arbor station to serve that line.
  • The North-South Regional Commuter Rail service, that would use existing railways between Ann Arbor, Milan and Howell (this concept would later that year give rise to the Washtenaw and Livingston Line Rail Project)
  • A local connector system that would link the two regional railroads, with a local streetcar system running from west to east through the downtown, across the Central, Medical and North campuses of the University of Michigan. The current investigations into the Connector were the direct result of the model.


Washtenaw Livingston Rail Line (Wally) Technical Review; Final Report and Revised Draft Business Plan; R.L. Banks & Associates, Inc.; June 26, 2008

R.L. Banks & Associates, Inc., (RLBA) was selected to perform a technical review of an early version (February 2008) of the Wally Draft Business Plan (prepared by the Corridor Oversight Committee – later version referenced below) and other information related to initiation of commuter rail service connecting Howell and Ann Arbor. This paper revised the February 2008 Draft Business Plan and led to publication of the September, 2008 version.


WALLY North South Commuter Rail Service Business Plan; Corridor Oversight Committee, Livingston and Washtenaw Counties; September, 2008

The Business Plan details the key activities and functions that the yet-to-be-formed Authority would need to take to ensure a viable commuter rail service. The plan describes the relationship and functioning of key operational, financial, and management aspects for the Wally North South Corridor Commuter Rail service.


WALLY Community Assessment Survey; for Ann Arbor Transportation Authority, by Illium Associates; July, 2009

Public opinion surveys were conducted of a random sample of Livingston and Washtenaw County residents, asking about their awareness of the WALLY project and their attitude towards the project. The survey results showed that awareness of the project was (at that time) limited to about half of the respondents, but that support was high (70-80%) in both counties among those who were aware of the project.


Case for WALLY; Ann Arbor Transportation Authority; April, 2010 to September, 2013 (latest revision)

The Case for WALLY was an informational presentation based on previous local studies of the North-South Commuter Rail concept. It also presented information from national studies and reports on commuter rail. The Case for WALLY was presented many times throughout Washtenaw and Livingston Counties over a three-year period, and was intended to test community interest in the project. An important outcome of these presentations was the contribution of local funds to continue technical studies of the project, and these funds are now being used as ‘matching’ funds for recent federal research and development grants.


North-South (WALLY) Commuter Rail Minimum Operational Configuration (MOC); Staff Concept Report for Discussion; June 2014

N-S MOC was developed in response to the question: what is the minimum level of meaningful N-S Commuter Rail service that could be provided, and what would it cost? N-S MOC proposes a minimum operable segment of service, including all support facilities, and a basic schedule. (NOTE: This document contains preliminary conceptual designs and cost estimates developed by MDOT and AAATA staff.  Designs and costs are currently being evaluated and refined by the consultants undertaking the N-S Rail Feasibility Study, and the outcomes of that work may differ significantly from the details described in this preliminary report.)


Evaluation of Downtown Ann Arbor North-South Commuter Rail (WALLY) Station Sites; for Ann Arbor Transportation Area Authority, by Smith Group/JJR; July, 2014 Evaluation of Downtown Ann Arbor North-South Commuter Rail (WALLY) Station Sites; for Ann Arbor Transportation Area Authority, by Smith Group/JJR; July, 2014

A series of reports were prepared, and public meetings were held, related to identifying a locally preferred downtown station for the N-S Commuter Rail service. Six alternatives were examined, leading to the selection of a preferred site between Liberty and Washington.