The System Study explored the five potential corridors/options identified from the previous Commuter Rail Strategic Plan from 2007 and looked at the region from a macro perspective to gauge the potential for each of the five corridors. The study included factors such as existing freight operations in the corridors and potential opportunities for commuter rail in the existing rights of way. Additionally the System Study established priorities for implementing commuter rail service through an evaluation of ridership potential, operating strategies, and associated capital and operating costs.
Stakeholders that participated in the Strategic Plan, as well as newly identified stakeholders, had been asked to continue to provide their input and expertise for this study. The Stakeholder Group met twice and provided valuable input throughout the process. Two additional Stakeholder Group meetings were held during the course of the study to provide input with respect to findings and recommendations made during the course of the study process. The study was completed in Spring 2010 and the final report published in summer 2010.
In November 2016, the MAG Regional Council Executive Committee approved the MAG Commuter Rail System Study Update. The update of the 2010 Regional Commuter Rail System Study is a largely a technical effort, focused on updating a variety of tasks:
- New, regional socioeconomic forecasts, revised ridership, cost estimates, corridor rankings, and information from other relevant passenger rail studies and technical content.
- Governance and indemnity/liability issues related to passenger rail implementation will also be studied, as these elements must be addressed prior to any agreement between the owner railroads and the eventual commuter rail governing/operating agency.
- Increased mobility to jobs, housing alternatives, and connectivity to downtowns, airports and entertainment centers, travel and tourism options, and traffic mitigation.
The results of the study will inform long-range high-capacity transit investments to support mobility throughout the region.