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Transportation : In the News

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Metro Detroit needs any and all transit

Translogic has produced this terrific assessment of public transportation in Metro Detroit.

Watch it below.

DTW ranked 3rd best airport in U.S.

The Detroit metro area frequently ends up on one list or another... and the designations aren't always flattering. This time, however, the word is not only good it's well-deserved. Simply said: Our airport rocks. Now, if only we could get some good public transport to it. Then we'd truly rank as a world class hub.


"Detroit’s airport is at the top of its game, ranked No. 1 in terminal cleanliness, design, location, lounges, and business centers. It came in third for service and staff communication and fourth in baggage handling. As Delta’s second largest hub and the carrier’s primary gateway for Asia, that’s no mean feat. The airport fell short only when it came to public transportation options—not surprising considering you’ve landed in the Motor City."

Check out which two airports ranked higher here.

Let's make alternative trasportation sexy

Given Metro Detroit's... ahem... spotty track record with developing alternative transportation, maybe we need to bring up the sex appeal of walking, biking, and rail. Atlantic Cities has a great piece on how transit needs a better branding campaign. Personally I like the idea of fruit-shaped bus shelters.


"Can we make people look longingly at mass transit? Can we give biking and walking the aura of cool that has long been the province of the automobile? Or are buses doomed to be the butt of jokes, along with the city of Cleveland?

Nordahl has a raft of suggestions, many based on real-world efforts of transit officials and planners to lure people out of their cars. Some are whimsical (like slides in train stations, something they’ve actually tried in the Netherlands, or fruit-shaped bus shelters, which have popped up in Japan). Some are more substantive, such as making transit stations into great civic spaces, as in the case of the Transbay Transit Center, scheduled to open in San Francisco in 2017:"

Read the rest here.

Funds to build Woodward light rail almost there

Like the little engine that could, backers of the M-1 rail project are determined to make rail a reality along Woodward. Metromode not only cheers their efforts but wishes our local leaders would put their nose to the grindstone and help make this thing happen... and flourish


"The M-1 Rail group outlined the details in a report sent to the federal government, making a business case for a streetcar system on 3.3 miles of Woodward, a shortened version of the original plan that called for rail out to 8 Mile Road.

The private investors and philanthropic groups behind the effort said they would commit to paying 80% of the estimated $5.1-million annual cost of operating the rail line through 2025."

Read the rest here.

New Dearborn train station will connect to The Henry Ford

Dearborn is first out of the gate for developing a new Metro Detroit intermodal train station. This one not only services the community but connects visitors to The Henry Ford and Greenfield Village.


"The construction ceremony was held at Greenfield Village because a new entrance to the Henry Ford complex will allow train passengers easy access to the visitor attraction.

The money for the new train station was approved two years ago under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, but Congress did not sign off on the funding until August.

Dearborn will consolidate its two passenger rail stations into an intermodal station on Elm Street near South Brady in the west section of downtown. Construction has begun on Michigan Avenue near the Southfield Freeway."

Read the rest here.

Americans are driving less

We linked to a story last weeks that showed how young Americans are driving less and less. Well, looks like everyone in the U.S. is driving less these days. Will that spur more resources for public transportation? One can only hope...


"Clearly, Americans are demanding walkable, compact communities that offer a variety of transportation options, and reports from the tri-state region bear this out. According to a recent poll, two thirds of New Jerseyans believe that their state needs more walkable, sustainable communities; nearly three in four New Jerseyans said that they would definitely or probably like to live in such a community. "

Read the rest here.

HuffPost Detroit says Metro Detroit needs bus and rail

We need buses. AND trains. Didn't you read our 5 Years and 250 Issues Later feature last week? Need more and better convincing? As Shakespeare once wrote... "Read on MacDuff." (we corrected the typo).


"The most effective transit systems seamlessly combine all these transit modes and more. Many people will take a local bus from their neighborhood to a rapid transit line along a major road. In fact, St. Louis saw their bus ridership increase when they built light rail because the whole system became more useful and attractive together.

If Detroit wants to stabilize and grow its economy, buses, rapid buses, and light rail must all be included in Detroit's regional transportation system. If Detroit only supports a basic bus system, we will remain a third-class city unable to attract new businesses or highly-educated workers. If Detroit only invests in light rail and neglects its buses, we will worsen the region's economic inequality, potentially leading to higher unemployment rates and lower educational attainment."

Read the rest here.

Metro Detroit light rail advocates speak out

Don't get us wrong, a rapid transit bus is a great idea for the metro Detroit region. The question is, should it come at the expense of scrapping plans for light rail - an amenity many ubanists point to as vital to creating a vibrant urban community and spur economic development? A recent OSU grad adds his voice to those arguing in support of rail.


"The original light rail proposal – which was only intended as a system that would be useful for getting around the urban core of Detroit – should be revived and make use of the generous philanthropic support that is still on the table ($100 million). Detroit desperately needs to create a neighborhood that will be attractive to new residents and the class of creative entrepreneurs that are driving the global economy. Otherwise, we’re really only helping people to abandon and overlook the city. To accomplish this goal, Detroit will need to overcome its overall financial crisis; no easy feat. However, I truly doubt the BRT system, which is envisioned as a cheap alternative to light rail, will do much of anything to attract new investment or residents to the city. After all, SMART buses are already pretty dependable and quite rapid, as they make only minimal stops within the city. It also doesn’t sound like the stakeholders are envisioning something like Cleveland’s BRT, which at around $200 million included attractive stations, a priority signaling system, sleek vehicles and overall street beautifications. That price tag was for only seven miles."

Read the rest here.

From high-speed trains to high-speed buses: The latest on metro Detroit mass transit plans

For many years now Michigan, and especially metro Detroit, has lagged behind other major metropolitan regions when it comes to mass transit and rail. While we're far from constructing the tunnel, no less seeing the light at the end of it, at least the region is moving out of the endless discussion phase and into the planning and, hopefully, execution phases.

Here's a round up of articles and opinions on the subject.

Read "Fast trains from Detroit to Chicago coming in 3-4 years" here.

"Snyder, Bing meet with LaHood to discuss Metro Detroit public transit." Read about it here.

Huffington Post has an editorial entitled: "A Will for Transit in Metro Detroit"

Could Metro Detroit develop regional public transport?

Macomb County is on board. Detroit believes it can happen. Oakland County, Wayne and Washtenaw will represent. Each had representatives attending last week's 2011 Southeast Michigan Regional Summit.


"Citing statistics that show $1 of public investment in regional transportation corridors leads to $6 in private funds, Flynn said: "Regional transportation is worth the investment."

The summit featured a panel of speakers from Denver discussing that area's Regional Transportation District and its ambitious expansion efforts for light rail. This year's event, formerly the Tri-County Summit, was hosted by Macomb County commissioners and included representatives from St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, as well as those from Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties and the City of Detroit."

Read the rest of the story here.

Middle or curbs? Woodward rail plan takes sides

Up the middle or down the sides? These are good conversations to be having about light rail along Woodward. Far better than the ifs, maybes, and "I don't knows" of the past.

(Ed. Note: As a former Portlander, I can attest to the claim that there's no way you can correlate Woodward's bi-directional boulevard with the Rose City's transit corridors. It is, indeed, comparing apples to oranges.)


"Should the proposed Woodward Light Rail run down the center of the street or along the curb? It's the one issue that divides advocates for improved transportation options in metro Detroit.

The center-run alternative has vocal supporters, but Dan Gilbert stepped forward recently to offer a full-throated defense of the curbside option."

Read the rest here.

The time has come for Metro Detroit to commit to regional mass transit

Even as the rest of the country adopts regional mass transit plans to help de-emphasize a car-only culture, metro Detroit still lags behind. The Detroit Free Press offers up a spirited editorial for why Detroit and its suburbs need to create a regional bus system.


"The need for transit is critical in southeast Michigan. At least 25% of Detroit households don't own vehicles. Throughout the region, many others who do have cars want alternatives, especially with gas prices exceeding $4 a gallon. Mass transit can provide them, while sparking investment, reducing congestion and improving air quality. It is essential to attracting and retaining talented young people.

Together, SMART and DDOT carry about 165,000 people a day. Roughly 40% of SMART's riders are Detroiters commuting to suburban jobs. Transit is an inherently regional issue that demands regional answers."

Read the rest of the story here.

And more on the topic here.

GM might test the future of personal mobility in Metro Detroit

The picture in CNET's story about GM's EN-V program says it all: Welcome to the future! GM is considering whether to make Detroit its testing ground for a new battery-powered, enclosed two-wheeled vehicle designed for car-clogged cities like Beijing. Is it us, or does the vehicle look like something out of Demolition Man?


"EN-V, which stands for Electric Networked Vehicle, is GM's answer to improving transportation systems in congestion-choked cities such as Beijing. The EN-V was unveiled in 2010 at the Shanghai auto show. It is a battery-powered, enclosed two-wheeled vehicle that seats two, based on the two-wheeled Segway scooter. It reaches speeds of 25 mph and can drive itself and communicate wirelessly with other EN-Vs to avoid crashes."

Read the rest of the story here.

Windsor interested in Metro Detroit's transportation plans

From rail to ferries, Windsor is taking a keen interest in how Metro Detroit invests in transportation infrastructure (and vice versa), cementing the view that although an international border divides us, we're all in this together.


"A passenger line to Canada would change Detroitís place in the rail system, from an end-of-the-line outpost to a crossroad for high-speed rail service from Quebec and Ontario to Chicago, and by extension, St. Louis and Kansas City.

International passenger rail from Detroit is, at least on the U.S. side, a realistic goal because the existing Amtrak route can easily connect to the rail tunnel under the Detroit River."

Read the rest of the story here.

Read about ferries from Windsor to Detroit here.

Chicago Sun-Times is on board with Michigan's high-speed rail

Metro Detroit recently received $161 million in federal funds to improve high-speed rail service on Amtrak's Wolverine line between Pontiac and Kalamazoo. The Chicago Sun-Times takes a good look at the potential of this investment and how it breaks down.


About $150 million of the money awarded to Michigan will be for the section of track between Kalamazoo and Detroit. This is owned by Norfolk Southern, which wants to sell it, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said.

Michigan may buy it with a portion of the high-speed rail money. Discussions are ongoing about how much of the funds would be for the track and how much for track improvement, Magliari said.

Track improvements would increase speeds from 79 mph to 110 mph, which would bring it in line with the track Amtrak owns from Kalamazoo to the state line.

At greater speeds, Amtrak could double the number of round trips from Chicago to Detroit from three to six, Magliari said. Ridership on this route already has increased 8 percent in the past year.

The rest of the high-speed funding would be used to improve the connection from Pontiac to the state line.

Read the rest of the story here.
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