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Christopher MacKechnie

Detroit: New Light Rail While Bus Service Is Being Slashed?

By May 24, 2011

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For those of you who do not know, Detroit is farther along in the process of constructing a new light rail line on Woodward Avenue, the city's marquee street, than anyone not in the city realizes. For an excellent posting on it, please see The Transport Politic . In fact, you should be reading The Transport Politic every day if you at all have an interest in transit. Unfortunately, the specter of building a new rail line only to be unable to afford to operate it, the ethereal being that has plagued Sacramento, San Jose, San Diego, and San Mateo County in the past and currently threatens Salt Lake City, the only city to be in the top ten cities for transit in both a report by Brookings and by U.S. News and World Report, has its eyes set on Detroit as well. Due to an enormous budget deficit, the city has slashed bus service on all its major routes, including Woodward. As a result, Saturday headways are now every 30 minutes and Sunday headways are now every 60 (!) minutes. Is Detroit going to spend $500 million on building a light rail line that runs every 60 minutes? No; it is likely that the money needed to operate it will cause additional destruction to the city's quickly dwindling bus services. It is sheer madness in the economic climate of today to strand the increasing number of transit dependent people at home in order to operate what many project boosters believe to be a tourist-oriented line. On the plus side, the train will offer excellent views of the many vacant lots and burned out buildings that still plague the Woodward Corridor despite a small recovery that has begun to take place.

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