The Amtrak station in East Lansing was a busy place to be at 8:21 p.m. Sunday, the day before classes resumed for the spring semester.
The 365 Blue Water train runs from Union Station in Chicago to Port Huron. Regular riders of the train have noticed a marked increase in the amount of passengers over the last few holiday breaks, and Sunday was no exception, as returning students headed back to campus.
Psychology sophomore Joseph Robele has been riding the train since he started at MSU two years ago. He said the train was so crowded during Thanksgiving break that it had to stop twice to accommodate all the passengers. He attributed the trains newfound popularity to tough economic times.
Matt Kuffer, 24, of East Lansing, takes the train once a month to see his daughter in Port Huron. He cited high fuel costs as his main reason for taking the train.
“You can get two round-trip tickets on the train for under $40,” Kuffer said. “It costs $55 in fuel to drive there and back.”
The train is also a convenient option for students instead of driving back to school or getting a ride. Economics sophomore Samira Hamed takes the train back to MSU from her home in Chicago.
Hamed does not particularly enjoy taking the train, but “it’s really the only means for me to get back to school,” she said.
“On a scale of one to 10, I would probably give it about a three.” She said.
Hamed’s main complaint about the train is the amount of delays and unexpected stops it makes. She said in all the times she has ridden the train, she only remembers it arriving on time twice. gfnw
“It’s annoying because it’s time off of you,” Hamed said. “I take the time to arrive on time for the train, the train should be on time, too.”
Delays were a common complaint among riders.
“The delays are really unreasonable,” Robele said.
Despite any complaints about the train, the amount of people at the station was a testament to the growing popularity of riding the rails.
Robele lives in El Paso, Texas, and flies to Chicago before taking the train back to East Lansing. He prefers the train over all other methods of travel to get back to MSU.
“I like it better than riding a bus or a plane,” Robele said.