Detroit People Mover
|Detroit People Mover|
Entering Renaissance Center station.
|Transit type||People mover|
|Number of lines||1|
|Number of stations||13|
|Annual ridership||2,216,200 (2010)
2.4% from 2009
|Headquarters||1420 Washington Boulevard
Detroit, Michigan 48226
|Operator(s)||Detroit Transportation Corporation|
|Number of vehicles||12|
|System length||2.9 mi (4.7 km)|
|Track gauge||4 ft 8 1⁄2 in (1,435 mm)|
The city’s elevated light-rail system, the People Mover is operated by the Detroit Transportation Corporation of the City of Detroit. It is an important asset for business travelers, tourists, residents, and downtown workers.
The Woodward Avenue Light Rail line, beginning in 2013, will serve as a link between the Detroit People Mover and SEMCOG Commuter Rail with access to DDOT and SMART buses as part of a comprehensive network of transportation in metropolitan Detroit.
The Detroit People Mover has its origins in 1966, with Congressional creation of the Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) to develop new types of transit. In 1975, following the failure to produce any large-scale results and increased pressure to show results, UMTA created the Downtown People Mover Program (DPM) and sponsored a nationwide competition that offered federal funds to cover much of the cost of planning and construction of such a system. Selecting proposals from four cities, the UMTA recommended that Detroit, Miami, and Baltimore be permitted to construct systems, but only if they could do so with existing grants. Though two of the four selected cities ultimately withdrew from the program, Miami and Detroit persevered to build theirs.
The People Mover was intended to be the downtown distributor for a proposed city and metro-wide light rail transit system for Detroit in the early 1980s; however, funding was scaled back. At the time of planning, the system was projected to have a ridership of 67,700 daily.
The system opened in 1987 using the same technology as Vancouver‘s SkyTrain and Toronto‘s Scarborough RT line. In the first year, an average of 11,000 riders used the People Mover each day; the one-day record was 54,648.
When the People Mover opened, it traditionally ran counter-clockwise. In August 2008, the system changed direction and is now running clockwise permanently, although it can run in both directions when necessary. The change to clockwise meant that trains were faster.
 Cost-effectiveness and use
The cost-effectiveness of the Mover has drawn criticism. In every year between 1997 and 2006, the cost per passenger mile exceeded $3, and was $4.26 in 2009, compared with Detroit bus routes that operate at $0.82 (the New York City Subway operates at $0.30 per passenger mile). The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also charges that the system does not benefit locals, pointing out that fewer than 30% of the riders are Detroit residents and that Saturday ridership (likely out-of-towners) dwarfs that of weekday usage. The system was designed to move up to 15 million riders a year. In 2008 it served approximately 2 million riders. In fiscal year 1999-2000 the city was spending $3.00 for every $0.50 rider fare, according to The Detroit News. In 2006, the Mover (which costs $12 million annually in city and state subsidies to run) filled less than 10 percent of its seats.
Among the busiest periods was the five days around the 2006 Super Bowl XL, when 215,910 patrons used the service. In 2008, the system moved about 7,500 people per day, about 2.5 percent of its daily peak capacity of 288,000. The Mover costs about $12 million annually.
There have been proposals to extend the People Mover northward to the New Center and neighborhoods not within walking distance of the city’s downtown. A proposal has been put forward by Marsden Burger, former manager of the People Mover, to double the length of the route by extending the People Mover along Woodward Avenue to West Grand Boulevard and into the New Center area. New stops would include the Amtrak station, Wayne State University and the cultural center, the Detroit Medical Center, and the Henry Ford Hospital. The plan would tentatively cost $150–200 million, and would be paid for by a combination of public and private financing.
 Operations and Maintenance
The People Mover system’s operations center is located at the Times Square Station. Housed in the same complex is the system’s maintenance facility and storage of the cars.
The DPM stops at 13 stations, eight of which were built into existing buildings. Each station has original artwork.
|Broadway Station||Broadway and John R. Street (downtown YMCA)|
|Grand Circus Park Station||Park Street & Woodward Avenue (David Whitney Building)|
|Times Square Station||Grand River Avenue & Times Square|
|Michigan Avenue Station||Michigan Avenue & Cass Avenue|
|Fort/Cass Station||Fort Street & Cass Avenue|
|Cobo Center Station||Cass Street & Congress Street (Cobo Hall)|
|Joe Louis Arena Station||3rd Street & Jefferson Avenue (Joe Louis Arena)|
|Financial District Station||Larned Street & Shelby Street (150 West Jefferson)|
|Millender Center Station||Millender Center Apartments|
|Renaissance Center Station||Renaissance Center|
|Bricktown Station||Beaubien Street & East Fort Street|
|Greektown Station||East Lafayette Street (Greektown Casino)|
|Cadillac Center Station||Gratiot Avenue & Library Street|
 Rolling stock
- Manufacturer: Urban Transportation Development Corporation (now Bombardier Transportation)
- Type: ICTS Mark I
- # of cars: 12 cars
- Maximum speed: 56 mph
The system operates in 2 car pairs.