How Detroit's QLine Streetcar Got Off Track

The QLine could ride its own dedicated lane and serve a real need for commuters. Instead, it's a slow circulator for a small part of downtown.
March 19, 2018, 9am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Detroit's QLine was originally pitched as an attraction that would raise the value of the land around it, so those who owned that land ended up having an outsized say in its development. It was to be paid for by land owners around the route, "but they soon decided not to cover all the costs, and enlisted government support," Angie Schmitt reports for Streetsblog USA. The QLine eventually received $37 million in capital funds from U.S. DOT and another $10 million from the state of Michigan."

Despite the funding, the streetcar kept a small route a short 3.3-mile route that few have been willing to pay to ride. "It simply doesn’t serve that many people. Ridership dropped about 40 percent, to 3,000 trips per day, after the streetcar started charging a $1.50 fare in August," Angie Schmitt writes. Because it's running on a side alignment in traffic, the streetcar runs fairly slowly and can be blocked by traffic. "Public comments overwhelmingly favored the center-running approach, but 'Gilbert in particular pushed for side alignment,' according to the report, which he again believed would be better for economic development," Schmitt writes.

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Published on Wednesday, March 14, 2018 in Streetsblog USA
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