The QLine recently celebrated its first birthday since opening in May 2017 and the streetcar line is still experiencing some bumps in the road, figuratively and literally. Ridership has greatly declined since opening and annual and monthly pass sales are barely in the triple digits. One of the biggest complaints about the QLine is its small coverage range: a 3.3-mile-long line down Woodward Avenue from New Center to Downtown. There’s a lot of money and planning involved in implementing any sort of public transit system but today at Think313 we’re playing around with designing a light rail system that would further connect Greater Downtown Detroit.
The Red Line follows the QLine route down Woodward Avenue and then continues west down West Fort Street, passing West Riverfront Park, Green Dot Stables, and Johnny Noodle King. At West Grand Boulevard the line heads north past the Mexicantown commercial district and then west along Vernor Highway until Junction Street, passing Clark Park and a myriad of restaurants, bars, and shops.
The Yellow Line starts on Michigan Avenue at the western edge of Corktown and continues east until it turns south on Washington Boulevard past the Cobo Center. The line then turns east on West Jefferson Avenue and follows Jefferson all the way past Belle Isle until it hits Van Dyke by Alden Park Towers.
The Blue Line’s westernmost station is at I-94 and Grand River Avenue and heads downtown through Woodbridge and Core City until it shoots off east by way of Gratiot Avenue, passing Eastern Market, until the line reaches St Aubin Street.
The Black Line functions as an inner ring route, connecting the Yellow, Blue, and Red Lines from East Jefferson Avenue up St Aubin Street to Mack Avenue/MLK Jr. Boulevard and back down by Rosa Parks Boulevard.
The Qline ended up costing $144 million for the 3.3-mile-long line, coming to $43 million per mile. Our fantasy light rail system above comes in at 17.9 miles (with the QLine’s 3.3 miles subtracted) for a grand total of $769.7 million in costs. Stations would be located roughly every half mile at major intersections to connect with bus routes. Although this is a fantasy transit map that we would love to see in the future, a proposed regional transit plan called Connect Southeast Michigan is gaining momentum in the Detroit metro area and hopes to connect the city and suburbs with a variety of bus routes and a commuter rail line from Detroit to Ann Arbor.
By Jared Hoffman
Research Associate, JMJ Phillip Group