Streetcar Coming to Detroit, But Locals Call for Broader BRT

Funding seems locked for a planned streetcar line in Detroit, but some locals argue that what the metro region really needs is a wider-reaching bus rapid transit system. The Transport Politic profiles the proposals.

The three-line BRT proposal has been dubbed the "Golden Triangle" and would spread far beyond the borders of the city. The streetcar line will cover just 9 route miles, all within Detroit.

"Politicians and businesspeople from Macomb and Oakland Counties, representing a large section of the region's population, have been quick to point out the limitations in the Woodward Streetcar line: at a total cost of $425 million, it will cover only nine route miles, all within the city of Detroit. For about twice that cost, advocates of a "Golden Triangle" bus system argue that they could build a 67-mile network of lane-separated lines along Woodward Avenue, Gratiot Avenue, and M-59, connecting downtown Detroit with Pontiac and Clinton.

In theory, this program of investments would encourage increasing transit ridership in the region, a first step before making much larger investments in rail.

And it is true that far more people will be within commuting distance of the three-line bus system than would be close to even the longer light rail line; Detroit's residential density is relatively evenly distributed throughout the city, not concentrated in the core (parts of which the mayor has recently announced plans to transform into farmland). Meanwhile, the fact that downtown remains a significant jobs center means that getting commuters in from across the region is an important step. "

Full Story: For Detroit, BRT or Rail First?

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