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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dbest View Post
    I found this piece about new tram development in the United States. The writer is from Toronto, he sets out to Cinci, Atl, Tampa, and Detroit to research each city's upcoming tram lines. I've got to like his take on Detroit's strategy compared to the other 3. He views the Detroit line as the only one with true promise for the future. It makes sense after he explains the way Portland positioned their initial line. Detroit seems to be mimicking this approach.
    Detroit is, to a great extent, mimicking Portland's approach. We spent a bit of time out there several years ago checking out the service, riding the streetcar, asking passengers what they liked and didn't like, examining their storage and maintenance facility and so on, and also met with people responsible for its design and development. Naturally we observed the effect it had on its neighborhood. We were quite impressed and that had an effect on our plans. Streetcars are a tricky business; you have to do your homework and they only work in certain situations, but I think our team and everyone else involved, then and since, has done their homework and planned carefully and responsibly.

    Certainly there were design choices and we could have done things differently, a hundred different ways, and this has (and will continue to be) the source of endless debate here, and elsewhere. But I think the plan M1 is executing is a good plan and will work well.

  2. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by professorscott View Post
    Detroit is, to a great extent, mimicking Portland's approach. We spent a bit of time out there several years ago checking out the service, riding the streetcar, asking passengers what they liked and didn't like, examining their storage and maintenance facility and so on, and also met with people responsible for its design and development. Naturally we observed the effect it had on its neighborhood. We were quite impressed and that had an effect on our plans. Streetcars are a tricky business; you have to do your homework and they only work in certain situations, but I think our team and everyone else involved, then and since, has done their homework and planned carefully and responsibly.

    Certainly there were design choices and we could have done things differently, a hundred different ways, and this has (and will continue to be) the source of endless debate here, and elsewhere. But I think the plan M1 is executing is a good plan and will work well.
    I've got a lot of faith in what you folks are doing, do you happen to know the specific model of car that was chosen? I noticed 3 different models on their website, but have not seen any exact info on a the model chosen? I did see the blurp about the battery power ratio, real forward thinking on that end, choosing relevant technologies to cut costs. This will be the opposite of the people mover in many aspects.

  3. #103

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    Quote Originally Posted by emu steve View Post
    Despite many folks hope that the line would be longer (much longer) than 3.1 miles, 3.1 miles is the best chance for immediate success.

    A longer route would probably decrease service quality (timeliness) and probably lead to a bad revenue/expense ratios (marginal expenses > marginal revenue).

    As the article states, "the Detroit M-1 Rail Line runs in a straight 5.3-kilometre corridor, connecting Detroit’s financial, cultural, entertainment, and educational hubs that line Woodward Avenue."

    If that isn't tailor made for a streetcar line in Detroit what is??? Those areas have the highest concentration of people who are 'passing through' be it for work, entertainment, education, medical care, etc. The 'population' swells in those areas (along Woodward) with people who are there for part of the day but do not live there. Big cities like NYC has 'resident population' and the 'day population' which can be much, much larger as people come into the city to work.
    Ok, but, in real cities with real public transit, those folks walk down the block or get dropped off at the subway/bus stop or commuter rail station and then ride it into the city and get off near their office {which is in the central city and not off in some exurban office park}. And while in the city and without a car, they use public options to go to other parts of the city that aren't on one part of one major thoroughfare. They don't drive 95% of the distance, park AND THEN take public transport that services one very short corridor of the entire metro area.

    I'd still like to see parking around the New Center stop so that folks can drive down Woodward or even 94, park, and take the M-1 rail to whatever their terminus is.
    Look, that's all fine and good for a relative few people in a 4.5 million metro area. But it still makes no sense as a transportation mode. What benefit is it for GM worker or BCBS or QL employee to slog it down 75 to New center...park, wait for trolley....and take a trolley the rest of the way vs.. going two more exits on 75/375 to the attached or just down the street parking garage?

    For those who don't like pro sports owners, wouldn't it be nice to pay a few bucks to park near New Center and take the rail to Tigers/Lions/Red Wings rather than pay 15, 20, 30 bucks to a sports tycoon who owns all of that surface parking?
    This is going to be it's primary function for the foreseeable future-- parking shuttle on game days. Hopefully enough exurban folks ride it and think it might be something worth supporting to make it an actual mass transit system, but I doubt it...because this is a backward region and we all know what the suburban tax payer (who will be asked to pay the lion share of the bill, and have the least service) thinks about supporting mass transit for detroiters. "M-59 needs repaving folks... and 94 needs more lanes, detroiters want it? they can pay for it."
    Last edited by bailey; May-26-15 at 12:00 PM.

  4. #104

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    BTW, a little apology: 3.1M is a 5K. M-1 is 3.3M.

    I had a brain fart on my post...

  5. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by professorscott View Post
    Detroit is, to a great extent, mimicking Portland's approach. We spent a bit of time out there several years ago checking out the service, riding the streetcar, asking passengers what they liked and didn't like, examining their storage and maintenance facility and so on, and also met with people responsible for its design and development. Naturally we observed the effect it had on its neighborhood. We were quite impressed and that had an effect on our plans. Streetcars are a tricky business; you have to do your homework and they only work in certain situations, but I think our team and everyone else involved, then and since, has done their homework and planned carefully and responsibly.

    Certainly there were design choices and we could have done things differently, a hundred different ways, and this has (and will continue to be) the source of endless debate here, and elsewhere. But I think the plan M1 is executing is a good plan and will work well.
    M1 Funding so far is radically different than Portland TriMet for sure.

    http://trimet.org/about/funding.htm

    Do you think that something like this would work here for RTA operation cost to some degree?

  6. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by ABetterDetroit View Post
    M1 Funding so far is radically different than Portland TriMet for sure.

    http://trimet.org/about/funding.htm

    Do you think that something like this would work here for RTA operation cost to some degree?
    That depends on what you mean by "would this work". Is Portland's financing method economically feasible for metro Detroit: sure. Is Portland's financing method politically feasible for metro Detroit: no.

    Detroit (by which I mean the region) has a leadership problem and nothing but a leadership problem. The powers that be still think we can pretend it's 1950 and arrange our communities thusly. If they ever realize that it's actually 2015 and that 1950 is in the distant past, the region may progress. Until then, no chance.

  7. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by professorscott View Post
    That depends on what you mean by "would this work". Is Portland's financing method economically feasible for metro Detroit: sure. Is Portland's financing method politically feasible for metro Detroit: no.

    Detroit (by which I mean the region) has a leadership problem and nothing but a leadership problem. The powers that be still think we can pretend it's 1950 and arrange our communities thusly. If they ever realize that it's actually 2015 and that 1950 is in the distant past, the region may progress. Until then, no chance.
    Very good points. I completely agree on the leadership problem. Staying on topic for this thread I think that once the M1 is rolling it will change the perception of public transportation here just enough that good ideas for funding more transit will stand a fighting chance. What will be intresting is if the same old political and funding battles will be dusted off and refought or if something different will be put in the debate. The RTA is at the very least, a small step in the right direction in my opinion.

  8. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by ABetterDetroit View Post
    Very good points. I completely agree on the leadership problem. Staying on topic for this thread I think that once the M1 is rolling it will change the perception of public transportation here just enough that good ideas for funding more transit will stand a fighting chance. What will be intresting is if the same old political and funding battles will be dusted off and refought or if something different will be put in the debate. The RTA is at the very least, a small step in the right direction in my opinion.
    One interesting prospect is that M1 Rail could produce enough economic activity to, in one sense, be economically self-sustaining, and could then decide to expand itself. This could involve running to the east along Jefferson, or into Eastern Market, or west into Corktown/Mexicantown, or farther north along Woodward, or any combination of these. Meanwhile - carrying your thought along - it might just show enough success to encourage people to support what the RTA is trying to do regionally.

    The RTA can become important if it can catalyze public opinion, which is really its first job. M1 can be more important than its own actual transportation role if it can help move the dialogue.

    Excellent post. Thanks.

  9. #109

  10. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by professorscott View Post
    One interesting prospect is that M1 Rail could produce enough economic activity to, in one sense, be economically self-sustaining, and could then decide to expand itself. This could involve running to the east along Jefferson, or into Eastern Market, or west into Corktown/Mexicantown, or farther north along Woodward, or any combination of these. Meanwhile - carrying your thought along - it might just show enough success to encourage people to support what the RTA is trying to do regionally.

    The RTA can become important if it can catalyze public opinion, which is really its first job. M1 can be more important than its own actual transportation role if it can help move the dialogue.

    Excellent post. Thanks.
    What makes M-1 such a high potential line is its ability to foster development along the line. Not all lines are as 'ripe' for in-fill development.

    Compared to say suburban stations in the WMATA (D.C.) line, the M-1 line has great possibilities as it is along the street in the heart of Detroit. In the D.C. suburbs, the line goes through many areas which were mostly undeveloped or underdeveloped and the development followed. Typically not even on a main street. Some development was excellent; some still underdeveloped; some developing (e.g., Dunn Loring in Va.). Dunn Loring 20 years ago was blah. Not Starbucks but the type of commercial typically found in industrial strips, landscaping, etc.

    In 10 years folks will look at Woodward and those stations and try to point to stations which fostered growth.

    The 'first fruit' will be the new arena, where a stop and the arena will both be. There is no cause and effect here. Both the arena and M-1 developed on their own momentum.

    Maybe, some impressive development at W. Warren (the WSU site) and Woodward. That site is ripe for significant multi-family housing.

    Maybe the Kirby stop. WSU owns some big parcels there.

    New Center. Existing businesses and undeveloped land.

    That large undeveloped block at Alfred/Woodward (Sibley stop) which is begging for multi-family housing.
    Last edited by emu steve; June-01-15 at 06:12 AM.

  11. #111

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    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/bus...cars/28683317/

    Was this the next step, namely, select a vendor for the cars?

  12. #112

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    This article basically discusses a lot of points familiar to folks on this forum.

    But, one point I think was very interesting, important, but not totally surprising:

    “M-1 is not the only factor, but it is one of the big ones, why banks will finance my projects,” Landy said.

    So M-1 has the side benefit of encouraging banks to lend to projects near the M-1 route.

    Banks look for viability for these projects and they perceive a project near Woodward with M-1 as being more viable then without M-1.

    And that, of course, is what the community leaders, etc. have been saying: M-1 will have a substantial effect on development along that Woodward corridor and more development is a plus for the entire development. Kind of like critical mass. More and more projects solidify the entire neighborhood.

    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/new...rail/29084473/
    Last edited by emu steve; June-22-15 at 04:11 AM.

  13. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by emu steve View Post
    This article basically discusses a lot of points familiar to folks on this forum.

    But, one point I think was very interesting, important, but not totally surprising:

    “M-1 is not the only factor, but it is one of the big ones, why banks will finance my projects,” Landy said.

    So M-1 has the side benefit of encouraging banks to lend to projects near the M-1 route.

    Banks look for viability for these projects and they perceive a project near Woodward with M-1 as being more viable then without M-1.

    And that, of course, is what the community leaders, etc. have been saying: M-1 will have a substantial effect on development along that Woodward corridor and more development is a plus for the entire development. Kind of like critical mass. More and more projects solidify the entire neighborhood.

    http://www.detroitnews.com/story/new...rail/29084473/
    So. Help me understand better. If we start calling it the Choochoo train to nowhere one more time, will the banks be scared by this comment and disapprove loans in the corridor? Detroit needs and deserves this and more. It will drive investment in the future enough so that the suburbs will cry for it.

  14. #114

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    If folks call it the 'Choochoo train to nowhere' most would not believe it (that statement).

  15. #115

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    But, but it's the hipster hauler! The suburban trolley! The choo-choo to nowhere! People Mover 2.0! It can't have a positive impact on the economics of the downtown core because that would mean Detroit actually progressing into a real and viable community and therefore my exurban paradise will be threatened!

  16. #116

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    My fears for M-1 aren't lack of riders, etc. but the 'unknown' problem which is not known today but will rear its ugly head as testing gets underway.

    Here is a 'case study' of how a project is having problems because of 'engineering changes' because of cost constraints.

    Seems that to save $ on the H. Street, N.E. line, D.C. engineered out underground heaters and without them switches froze...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...593_story.html

    BTW, in suburban Maryland, the governor approved the so-called 'Purple Line' but drastically cut a lot of features, etc. to save $. Funding doesn't add up. With the modest amount the state of Maryland is pledging, I don't thing the $ are there to do this project. I don't think the two counties can pony up the $ they need to.

    Again, I hope that these projects, M-1, D.C. , "Purple Line", etc. are not victims of 'penny wise, pound foolish' approach to project design.
    Last edited by emu steve; July-10-15 at 07:16 AM.

  17. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by emu steve View Post
    My fears for M-1 aren't lack of riders, etc. but the 'unknown' problem which is not known today but will rear its ugly head as testing gets underway.

    Here is a 'case study' of how a project is having problems because of 'engineering changes' because of cost constraints.

    Seems that to save $ on the H. Street, N.E. line, D.C. engineered out underground heaters and without them switches froze...

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/...593_story.html

    BTW, in suburban Maryland, the governor approved the so-called 'Purple Line' but drastically cut a lot of features, etc. to save $. Funding doesn't add up. With the modest amount the state of Maryland is pledging, I don't thing the $ are there to do this project. I don't think the two counties can pony up the $ they need to.

    Again, I hope that these projects, M-1, D.C. , "Purple Line", etc. are not victims of 'penny wise, pound foolish' approach to project design.
    I don't think engineers and overseers of our project would be that stupid. I could see the people in DC thinking, "well it's only that cold here 3 months a year and even then it's not always like that so let's cut that out". But alas, the weather down there has been a lot more brutal in the winter recently. Let's look towards Toronto's streetcar system rather than DC.

  18. #118

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    I agree that maybe no one here (D.C.) expected the unexpected last winter, but the temps were possible based on historical records. I'm not sure we 'shattered' records.

    But remember the 'underlying principle': Namely, changes are made for cost reasons and they vary project by project. M-1 might have a different issue...

    It would be nice to know if ProfessorScott knows if funding for the project seemed adequate for what was attempted...
    Last edited by emu steve; July-10-15 at 10:03 AM.

  19. #119

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    Quote Originally Posted by emu steve View Post
    I agree that maybe no one here (D.C.) expected the unexpected last winter, but the temps were possible based on historical records. I'm not sure we 'shattered' records.

    But remember the 'underlying principle': Namely, changes are made for cost reasons and they vary project by project. M-1 might have a different issue...

    It would be nice to know if ProfessorScott knows if funding for the project seemed adequate for what was attempted...
    Thanks, emu_steve; your kindly old professor always comes when summoned, or at least tries to.

    First off, the DC streetcar project is one of the worst-conceived and worst-managed projects I have ever seen in any field of endeavor. The Three Stooges might have done a better job. With regard to the M1 project, there have always been contingency plans in regard to funding, and the project was carefully designed so as not to exceed the available funds. For example, from the early planning stages, it was clear that it was going to be quite difficult and costly to get the thing across Jefferson all the way to the river, so it isn't going quite that far.

    In my considered opinion the funding to complete construction is quite sufficient, and they have the funds to operate the system for several years before it gets absorbed into a, hopefully, by-then functioning and funded RTA. If the operating funds prove short they have options, such as reducing service hours or running the cars a bit less frequently, but I don't think they'll have to resort to such shenanigans.

    Also, remember, we studied and visited existing systems to try to understand the various risks and complexities. There are lots and lots of operating streetcar systems, including in cold climates, all over the world; the only somewhat cutting-edge aspect of M1 is the amount of off-wire operation. How DC got into the rolling SNAFU in which they find themselves would make an interesting book, but people like Mr. Childs and Mr. Penske are not imbeciles and aren't likely to screw up in anything close to similar fashion.

  20. #120

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    Professor, what are your thoughts on expanding this line further up Woodward. I know that the LPA was BRT (which in my mind is unfortunate). But with future growth up Woodward, could we see an expansion of M1 Rail and can it be expanded to act more like light rail?

  21. #121

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    Thanks, Professor.

    When folks study streetcar systems, D.C.'s H street will be an example of poor design, management, etc.

    I'm not sure the ridership demand will be anywhere near M-1.

    Our next one up is the Purple Line in suburban Maryland. Don't know how many years before construction starts.

    As far as ridership, M-1 in a sense parallels the original Red Line (1976) in D.C. when our subway system started. It was basically a downtown line serving customers moving from one point to another along an arc in downtown (4.5 miles) of what is the Red line. [Rhode Island to Farragut North, for those familiar with D.C.]. Later a blue line was added and then more and more.

    What I'm getting at is that the first part of the D.C. subway segment served essentially downtown riders.

    It did not transport suburbanites to their downtown offices or suburban points (e.g., Rosslyn).

    That is what M-1 will do with similar as midtown is essentially an extension of downtown.

  22. #122

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    Quote Originally Posted by emu steve View Post
    As far as ridership, M-1 in a sense parallels the original Red Line (1976) in D.C. when our subway system started. It was basically a downtown line serving customers moving from one point to another along an arc in downtown (4.5 miles) of what is the Red line. [Rhode Island to Farragut North, for those familiar with D.C.]. Later a blue line was added and then more and more.

    What I'm getting at is that the first part of the D.C. subway segment served essentially downtown riders.

    It did not transport suburbanites to their downtown offices or suburban points (e.g., Rosslyn).

    That is what M-1 will do with similar as midtown is essentially an extension of downtown.
    [This was way too long so I cut it down to essentials.]

    I live in the DC area (Rosslyn, actually) and while I like the DC metro a lot and would love something similar for Detroit, I don't think comparing M-1 to the Metro is useful and indeed may be harmful. And I also support M-1. But they are totally different things.

    - Mixed-traffic streetcars are not rapid transit. Mixed-traffic streetcars act as accelerators for pedestrians in an area, e.g. I'm staying in a hotel downtown, and now I can reasonably get to the DIA without a car/taxi. Rapid transit like the DC Metro has its own dedicated right of way and widely spaced stops allowing people to move quickly around the region.

    Put most simply, M-1 has 12 stops in 3.3 miles and runs in traffic. First segment of the Red Line had 6 stops in 4.5 miles, and runs in its own tunnel.

    - The DC Metro was always a system. M-1 is a segment with no firm commitment to ever go beyond that and funding drawn from both private and public sources. The DC Metro was planned upfront as a comprehensive 3-line, 9-terminus, 100-mile system for the entire region, 66% funded with billions of federal highway dollars. When the first 4.5 miles opened downtown, extensions and additional lines were already under construction. While it's true that the Metro only served downtown riders for the first 15 months or so, it was never even possible that that would be a permanent condition.

    - Metro is regional, streetcars are city-only. Rapid transit requires both city and suburbs to cooperate in funding and construction. A streetcar in the densest part of the city can be done by the city on its own, which means it doesn't have to compromise who it serves and funding can be simpler. This divide exists in DC where the entire streetcar network was a DDOT-only project (or, before it was cancelled, Arlington's was an Arlington-only project) rather than inter-jurisdictional. Same distinction exists in Detroit.

    Anyway, my concern is that people will expect rapid-transit performance from M-1 and then get disappointed when it isn't that. "Why should we vote on a millage for a rapid transit system? They already built that streetcar and it doesn't do anything for me!" Well, right, but its point was only ever to be a utility for the downtown/midtown areas, not to provide rapid transit service. If Detroit wants 50 or 100 miles of rapid transit, supporters and regional leaders should find a way to get that to a vote, not hope that 3 miles of streetcar will eventually transform into 50 or 100 miles of rapid transit. And that's just what the RTA is supposed to be doing at the moment. So let's leave the M-1 aside in that discussion.

    [To complicate things, I think maybe earlier in this thread Prof. Scott answered a question I had about the switch to center-running at New Center and at Congress, which would seem to indicate there has been thought about making this a sort of hybrid that could extend in a more rapid transit mode to the north and south(east/west). But that's never been sold as a reason to support M-1, and instead we have parallel RTA rapid transit studies going on for Woodward, Gratiot, and Michigan even as M-1 is being constructed. If M-1 is going to take on a role comparable to a Metro line, it seems very unlikely at the current juncture.]
    Last edited by Junjie; July-13-15 at 12:51 AM.

  23. #123

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    Excellent post.

    Certain things are undeniable: Metro is an underground system (in D.C.) while M-1, obviously, is not. Metro has, and as in the post above, was designed to expand throughout D.C. and the suburbs and much of the ridership is folks from residential areas moving along commercial points (e.g., downtown, Rosslyn, Pentagon, Pentagon City, Reagan National Airport, etc. etc. and many points in Md).

    What I don't know (and it was a little before I came to D.C. is):

    How much ridership was there on the Red Line which served essentially commercial areas of downtown BEFORE the system expanded to residential areas? (I don't know why they didn't build the blue between say Foggy Bottom - Capitol South first. That has more commercial establishments such as GWU, White House area, Metro Center, L'Enfant Plaza, Capitol Hill, etc.)

    E.g., how many people traveled between say Farragut North and say Metro Center? (back in those days most of the 'East' or 'old' downtown was basically a big nothing. Absolutely nothing like what we've seen in the 21st century). I remember when I came to D.C. (1979) one really didn't want to spend much time east of say 15th street. 14th Street was the 'tenderloin' district for D.C. 13th street and further east was old, decrepit. Even Pennsylvania Ave. say east of 12th street needed a major redevelopment project.

    The big difference here is that a lot of the INITIAL red line stops were in areas without a ton of commercial activity.

    The Detroit M-1 line is will serve the most vibrant commercial areas of Detroit including Wayne State, the medical centers, etc. as well as the CBD and downtown and the entertainment and sports district near Fisher and Woodward.
    Last edited by emu steve; July-13-15 at 08:39 AM.

  24. #124

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    Quote Originally Posted by rbdetsport View Post
    Professor, what are your thoughts on expanding this line further up Woodward. I know that the LPA was BRT (which in my mind is unfortunate). But with future growth up Woodward, could we see an expansion of M1 Rail and can it be expanded to act more like light rail?
    I consider it very likely that M1 will be expanded over time, possibly in two directions, which I would guess would be northwesterly along Woodward (though never as far as Pontiac) and easterly along something like Jefferson. The LPA was designed to address the very long distance route between Pontiac and Detroit, which is not suitable for a streetcar system; it's too long. I think light rail would have been better, but there's no certainty the political will even exists to build a very slimmed-down semi-rapid bus system, let alone anything more costly. We still think it's necessary to widen Detroit freeways, for Christ's sake. Until we grow up, we aren't going to do any grown-up things like build proper transit.

    I think M1 will expand northward organically and slowly, as development nudges it to the north. As it goes north from New Center and can run in dedicated lanes in the median (because there's room for it), it can move more quickly and be more, as you say, like light rail. Of course, the multi-million dollar question is where are the multi millions of dollars for it going to come from.

  25. #125

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    Thanks Professor,

    I tend to agree with your thoughts on expansion. Are the tracks widths the same for LRT and Streetcar technology? If so, in theory, we could change out the vehicle type and get ourselves to a more expansive LRT system, right? This is assuming we grow a political will.

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