It’s time for a change-Detroit transit

Last Tuesday I had a chat with Marie Donigan, Megan Owens and Sean Mann on transportation hosted by The Detroit Free Press. Earlier I had read in the same paper an article that had said “Also at risk is the project to build light rail along Woodward because, Bing said, $100 million in federal transportation funds would be lost if the city can’t even provide decent bus services.” I’m wondering what the status of light rail coming to Woodward really is and so are some others.

Three articles published that week also sited possible delays and indecision by people connected to the project. The Free Press published an opinion the next day saying “Obstacles ahead…”. The South End, Wayne State’s paper published an article saying “Woodward Light Rail faces tough questions”. Finally on Thursday Crain’s published an article saying “Private money on the line: Woodward rail donors wait for layout they like”.

This week Dan Gilbert said “There’s almost nothing you can do better for an urban core than curbside light rail”. Yet most planners see curbside rail as a hinderance to bike riders. There might have to a modified system.

And thinking about a modified system I have to say that my preference to the woes of Detroit area transit come down to a combination of bus rapid transit and a personal rapid transit system. First off I don’t think the Woodward light rail line running to 8 Mile will do much for the city. There are not a lot of people in the 1/2 mile right of way along the line. A better route would be to do a personal rapid transit line that ran less than a 1/2 away, right by some of the positions that have said they would support light rail but are no where near it.

Ithaca, NY did a plan for a PRT system of 11.5 miles (5.75 miles of two way track) that would cost about 185 million. Our rial line will cost in excess of 550 million for 9.5 miles. Is it not time to consider another alternative?

Part of the problem is showing it to people. How do I do that? Well the best way is a video. So I did one. Take 6 minuets of your time and watch the personal rapid transit route I suggest for Detroit.

This route incorporates several needy areas along with several upscale areas and feeds into shopping and entertainment districts as well as job locations.

On a related note I also think PRT is a solution that could work for the Ann Arbor to Detroit route. During the past few years planners have proposed a train between the two cities. What is not outlined very clearly is how to get to the airport. Using one train route does not go by the airport so busses would have to be deployed. Doing a PRT along several train routes and through Canton would rectify this problem and provide rapid transit that could be used by a variety of people.

The map has other routes shown, but concentrating dollars on the Ann Arbor to Detroit route and the mid city and downtown routes would be a place that I would like to start.


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