Grand Rapids has been the terminus of the Michigan state-sponsored Pere Marquette since it began running on August 5, 1984. The schedule of trains #370 and #371 have always been the same with one daily train leaving Chicago in the early evening at about 5:20pm, arriving in Grand Rapids at 10:20pm and the return leaving at 7:35am arriving at 10:33am. The original schedule in 1984 was nearly the same (5:40pm to 10:40pm and 7:30am to 10:30am). The only exception is in 1995 (beginning on April 2 ending by 1996) when service was briefly reduced to four weekly trips over the weekend, only overnighting in Grand Rapids Thursday thru Sunday nights only. The stop has never been staffed by Amtrak ticket agent but starting with the 1996 timetable is a computer logo saying "Tickets may be purchased with a major credit card at this station via Amtrak video ticketing equipment". These became the modern Quick Trak kiosk and there is still one in the stations small depot open and closed by a caretaker/security guard (waring a blue vest) for an hour around the train's arrival and departure.
The station is presently nestled between Market Avenue SW and Wealthy Street. When the 3 Superliner coach Pere Marquette trains (a non push-pull set when I rode) enter service they come across the Grand River on a single track bridge and come to a stop with the rear most coach blocking Market Street and the locomotive nearly across Wealthy Street before continuing is the same diction after receiving passengers to continue for Chicago. This means the train can only enter shortly before departure to not block traffic. The platform is a simple concrete along the ballast below the level of the track so stools are required for boarding passengers. There is a wheelchair lift surrounded by fencing (but not a more modern enclosure) for when Horizon cars substitute for the Superliners. Along the platform is a small single story grey shingled, wooden station house with a blue roof and rooftop clock and weathervane. Porches extended from the house on 3 of 4 sides including covering most of the platform area to provide shelter to waiting passengers. This depot was built in 1996 and was never designed to house a ticket agent. Inside is nondescript seating with individual chairs attached together. A plaque says is in appreciation of American Seating for donating the passenger seating on November 30, 1995. There is also one to Boise Cascade Office Products for their donation of this wall clock (which clock the outdoor ones) on December 5, 1996, as well as one in memory of Raymond M. Hamachen for his dedication as station host and support of intercity passenger rail in West Michigan. There are also restrooms and a Quik-Trak machine in a little annex from the main waiting room that the security guard was helping passengers use, although with the recent introduction eTicking having one is no longer quite so important.
Other interesting features include a four sided column with train and ticketing information beneath one of the porches of the station house. The top of the column says Pere Marquette with "Connecting West Michigan and Chicago Every Day of the Year" Written Beneath. It then discusses how to buy a ticket via phone, internet and from the video ticket machine. Including that you can purchase tickets on board if seats are available although the price may be higher. The schedule written beneath this is old claiming trains still stop in New Buffalo (the stop was replaced by one on the Wolverine/Blue Water route in a different location in October 2009) and slightly incorrect (by a matter of minutes) although the most important time, the departure time of train #371 to Chicago from Grand Rapids is correct. The rest of area formed by the triangle of the train tracks, Market Avenue and Welathy Street is a small parking lot and there is another small 'overflow' parking lot diagonally across this intersection for what Amtrak claims are 40 total parking spaces. It is across from this parking lot where MegaBus also stops without announcing itself with a sign. The signage to direct passengers to the station has been updated with the new logo with station written beneath, this sign has a little blue highway type one with Now 7 Days a Week Service written beneath. The station platform lacks any signs saying Grand Rapids with no way for arriving passengers to know where they are. Although the station is in the second largest city in Michigan, it is a hodge podge of community efforts to build a station. The Amtrak stop location in Grand Rapids has always been here since the restoration of service in 1984 but I assume before the depot there was just a shelter for waiting passengers.
Effective October 27, 2014: This station has closed, the station has moved a half-mile east of the current station, onto a different stub-end of track
All photos taken on August 2, 2012
Last Updated: 10 August, 2012