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Are You on Board for Light Rail?

Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts on light rail in Detroit.

Do you believe light rail is a good investment for Detroit?

That’s the question this week after the light rail circulator project along Woodward Avenue in Detroit received $25 million in federal funding.

The proposed 3.3-mile light rail circulator will have 11 stations on Woodward running from downtown to New Center, according to a press release.

Light rail has the support of many business and political leaders, including Roger Penske, the chairman of M-1 RAIL, and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder.

“Investing in infrastructure and transportation projects like this are absolutely vital to our economic recovery, and this important funding will make the M-1 project a reality and bring with it nearly 2,000 jobs for the region,” U.S. Rep. John Dingell, a Democrat from Dearborn, said in a statement. “For far too long, Detroit has been one of the only major cities in this country without a source of mass transit, but that ends today. Those who have helped move this project forward at every turn understand that it will help bring opportunity to this great city, in business recruitment, foot traffic in our stores and shops, and reliable, modern transportation that folks can rely on. I’m proud to have worked to help secure this important funding.”

What do you think? Is light rail a good idea for Detroit and southeastern Michigan? Leave a comment to let us know what you think.

Ted January 21, 2013 at 02:18 AM
I'm curious. Why do we insist on rail transportation being self sufficient? Neither the auto, airline or shipping industries would exist if it wasn't for billions of dollars annually in infrastructure funding. Rail seems to be the only transportation sector we expect to be self sustaining.
David L. January 21, 2013 at 06:58 AM
The fact that Detroit has no viable mass=transportation system is an embarrassment. While I'm not sure this particular project is the answer, the construction of some type of system needs to start someplace. As I'm currently living in a capital city of Europe, I have come to appreciate the ease that mass-transport provides when attempting to travel around a large city. There is no way I would ever try to drive around this city if there is a train route that goes anywhere near where I need to go. That being said, it's not uncommon at all for people to actually walk, yes walk(!) to a destination less than a mile or so away. While, admittedly, I would never have considered doing such a thing prior to moving here, I now see taking the car in such an instance to be a complete and utter waste.
ScotTee January 21, 2013 at 01:31 PM
To all the naysaysers, First, have you used a light rail train in a real city like LA or Portland or even Chicago? Or are you basing your comments on your lifelong experiences living in Suburbs like Shelby Twp? Second, do you realize this project will only cost each person roughly 10-dollars!?! Is that really too much for you people? $10 to build a train which will last 50 years and that is too much money for you? Third, the People Mover has nothing to do with this project. One brings people downtown, the other shuffles people around downtown. When downtown is revived more people will use the People Mover. It's not going anywhere. Fourth, when should Detroit build light rail? AFTER Dan Gilbert turns the city around, BEFORE? Or WHILE Gilbert is turning the city around? Fifth, do you cheapskates realize just how friggin' cheap you are?
ScotTee January 21, 2013 at 01:51 PM
No one wants to walk more than a block in 10 degree weather, John. Public transit will help keep drunk drivers off the streets, which will help cops. Public transit will help stores and restaurants, which will in turn have more taxable income. Not 2 mention: Building this rail at a cost of about $12 per MI citizen will employ 2,000 people. That is not breaking the bank to employ thousands of people. At some point in the future the rail will likely be extended further into the 'Burbs where more people will have access to it.
ScotTee January 21, 2013 at 01:55 PM
"Who will go there?" Try young tech savy entrepreneurs and Dan Gilbert's employees. You do realize there are a lot of moneyed people trying to turn Detroit in the the Midwest's own Silicone Valley, don't you? You have read those news articles...
John Lang January 21, 2013 at 01:55 PM
To answer your first question, yes, and no. Dan Gilbert has no interest in turning Detroit around beyond building his Midwest gambling empire. He's in the process of buying out Greektown Casino, along with parking lots and infrastructure along the Woodward corridor to support it. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/dan-gilbert-greektown-casino-hotel-_n_2489830.html The idea is for you to drive down to the city and park in one of his lots, ride a couple of miles or less to his casino on a shuttle/train that was partially funded by the taxpayers. So yes, count me in as being too cheap to contribute $10 to that.
ScotTee January 21, 2013 at 02:01 PM
You expect Detroiters to drive for how much longer? 40 years? How much will gas cost in 10 years? $9 a gallon? Detroit is long, long overdue for decent public transit. "Some cultures and areas it works" what does that mean?
Al Seder January 21, 2013 at 02:23 PM
It will be the most expensive shuttle bus in history. A very expensive way to get Wings Fans to the new Arena. Illich SCORES Again. He spends 10 cents and we spend $500 to make him richer. Another waste of money. And the money we have to spend that we don't have just because the Feds say so. A New Train Station that won't get used any more than the current one does. It will turn into a very expensive entrance to Greenfield Village without the parking. I don't think you can list the ways all this is bad for us. Obama insist that we will have Trains even though they will be empty. How much are we subsidizing Amtrack Now ?
KC CHASE January 21, 2013 at 02:24 PM
I will get on the list of being "too cheap" to waste even $10 on that. $10 can feed my family for 2 days. I have no desire to go downtown, so I am against wasting the money.
kidcat24 January 21, 2013 at 02:36 PM
I would be much more on board with high speed rail.
John Lang January 21, 2013 at 02:37 PM
Well north of a billion dollars a year right now. Romney was chastized for suggesting that it be privatized. Another thing he was right about that will continue to balloon the Federal deficit.
Sam123 January 21, 2013 at 02:43 PM
Edward, where do we have a train station?
kidcat24 January 21, 2013 at 02:55 PM
John, I go downtown and I don't go to casinos. I would use the light rail.
ScotTee January 21, 2013 at 04:07 PM
John-- So the 27th building/company Gilbert buys is a Casino and now Gilbert is only interested in Detroit to turn the city into a gambling mecca? What about all the office buildings he bought first, how do those fit into your version of his plans? John--my last question was rhetorical-- clearly you are too cheap to spend 10 bucks on 2,000 jobs which will increase the property values of one of the most depressed cities in America.
ScotTee January 21, 2013 at 05:23 PM
Your family can eat off of $2.50 a day? That's less than one dollar per meal for your entire family... you are either a great bargain shopper or you should probably be using mass transit instead of a costly automobile. Be a good person, skip pizza one night this year-- only one night-- and use that money to help turn Detroit around. Of course, though you would have to shell out 10 bucks for each person in your household--which can't be more than 2 can it?
John Lang January 21, 2013 at 05:41 PM
How many times have we been told that by being a good person and just giving a little bit more, we could help turn Detroit around? When we were told that giving out tax credits to the film industry would be just what the city needs? When just giving another $20 a year to the DIA would get us in for free? We've been duped for 50 years on hundreds of similar types of scams and there will never be an end to it as long as we believe everything we're told.
LugNut January 22, 2013 at 03:55 PM
Every one of these projects turns into a fiscal black hole. If you want to help poor people get to work; it would be many times cheaper to have a Smart Bus pick them up and drop them off at their doorstep. The businessmen behind this have not looked at the history of these projects. We had a nice interurban transit system in this area 60 years ago. The problem was it was not paying for itself. Buses are much more cost efficient, and more importantly; flexible in their routes. All this money could have given us a first-class bus system. Also, there is already concern from the relatively few profitable businesses along the route that they will be put out of business due to construction; which is estimated at two years.
Greg Harris January 23, 2013 at 07:31 PM
I am totally in favor of the light rail project. I believe bigger and better things are going to happen in the city of Detroit
Matt January 23, 2013 at 08:41 PM
$0 of your Michigan tax dollars are going to this and the federal dollars are limited. It is private investment for the most part. Do you really think they would be building this for fun? The key word is INVESTMENT. Those who own land downtown realize is crucial to make their land more valuable and prosperous. Would you turn down $100-500 from the government to pave a street that was dangerous for your car so you can drive to work or school? If not, then you can't tell people like me (who look like you and work hard in white collar jobs, in case you were wondering) that work and live in the city that we aren't also entitled to help to improve our transportation.
Matt January 23, 2013 at 08:44 PM
That money was already earmarked for transportation, not fire and police which atre controlled by local budgets. SMH...
Matt January 23, 2013 at 08:48 PM
This caucasian, Ivy League graduate, with a white collar job and plenty of similar friends lives and works downtown. I'm glad you stay out in your area so that I don't have to deal with ignorant people every day. But hey, come support the Tigers and Lions and make fun of how the city looks. I'm sure that will help the reputation of the area you live in to anyone from outside of the state.
Matt January 23, 2013 at 08:50 PM
The People Mover doesn't have graffiti and is not rummaged. Typical sheltered, uneducated, racist talk.
Holly Dentry January 24, 2013 at 10:10 PM
Why would putting $25 million into another worthless transportation system in Detroit be a good idea??? Let's see, all the tax paying citizens that live any where around that stretch of Woodward needing fast transportation??? NO.. How about all the congestion on I75 and 696 every morning? what about putting a light rail in that area to help the people actually working get to work easier?? Better idea!!!
Matt January 25, 2013 at 01:55 AM
Holly, wouldn't incentivizing people to move closer to their work by having more conveniences also lessen congestion on the highways? I love my 5 minute commute vs. the 20-45 I had when I was in royal oak. Give people like me housing near our jobs and we will live downtown and let you fight traffic.
Matt January 25, 2013 at 03:02 PM
I don't think my last comment went through so I'll try again: Holly, wouldn't you say that investing in something to attract thousands of young professionals to the city would also have the effect of lessening traffic on 696 and 75? People like me want the comforts of public transport and more people in this area have a bachelors degree or higher than the rest of the city (which likely means we are paying higher taxes). So, in essence, either invest a smaller amount for this important area to grow, or pay tons for a rail in the areas you speak of... And every other surrounding area who also complain about the same issues. By the way, I enjoy my 5 minute commute every day compared to the 20-45 I had while living in Royal Oak.
Lee Jacobsen February 01, 2013 at 06:24 PM
David, Totally agree with you. Anyone traveling for a short period of time in Europe quickly appreciates the efficient transportation system that they have, and, upon returning to the States, wonders why we can't have at least something better. Over a period of 20 years going to Switzerland, and traveling via train, the train schedules remained the same, and were always clean and on time. Carts for moving luggage were free, and often, designed to actually go on the trains. Europe of course is more condensed, so trains don't have the distance to travel, but we are smart, surely we can do better than what we have now to get around. I remember the trolleys down Michigan Ave in the 50s. Here is a trolley ride from the 1900s for comparison. Not much different. Mexico has em. Note the casual Jay walking by everyone! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=954L9MpfCEo
John Lang February 02, 2013 at 12:24 AM
Your free carts wouldn't be around longer than about 10 minutes down in that neighborhood.
Lee Jacobsen February 02, 2013 at 12:37 AM
John, folk don't steal things that are free, after they take a few because they can, and the scrappers refuse them, the carts will stick around. One can also add access posts of an 'artistic' nature which keep them localized and not all over the neighborhood. Detroit folk are used to the posts, we see them in front of supermarket doors to prevent carts from helping the homeless in the parking lots.
John Lang February 02, 2013 at 02:46 AM
Folk don't steal things that are free. Now there's a concept. Would that be like the free copper pipe that gets taken out of a residential property that the scrappers refuse? What a fantasy world some live in. A video from a hundred years ago? Put us in a time machine and take us back there. Please. I'm all for it. Instead, for a dose of 2013 reality, get in your car and take a ride down to Woodward Avenue, park your car in a dark lot, get out and start walking. See what happens. Then come back and tell us about it.
Lee Jacobsen February 02, 2013 at 06:15 AM
John, there are all kinds of 'free' iron manhole covers that the scrappers seem to refuse as well. The carts will survive. Regarding walking down a dark Woodward ave at night, not a problem in Birmingham, Royal Oak, etc, or do you mean Detroit? That would be a problem, but of course the train system and stops will have lights, and all would be bright in the world. The Detroit lighting system will be privatized by then and folks that know how to screw in a light bulb will be on the job. Light rail vs Advanced Buses? Long argued, and here is a site that offers some comments. A combo of both seem to be the answer. In CA not so good. http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/fast-buses-vs-light-rail-you-decide/

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