DETROIT — 60 Years. That’s how long it’s been since Detroit has had an operating streetcar. That’s about to change when the new QLINE begins passenger service on Friday, May 12. Free rides will be offered for everyone during opening weekend.
The new QLINE has added $7 billion in development along the Woodward corridor. About two-thirds of the investment along the line is complete, with $2.4 billion planned for the future. It took 10 years to go from the concept phase to passenger operations.
“We’re always reinventing and I think that’s kind of what the city’s going through also,” said Jay Farner, CEO of Quicken Loans. “The success of our business, the happiness of our clients equals our ability to help make sure that QLINE goes up and down the street. Next week, you’ll be riding it. You can go from downtown to midtown.”
The QLINE makes a 3.3-mile trip down Woodward Avenue. It takes about 25 minutes to ride from the northernmost point in the New Center Area to the southern most point in downtown. Yes, the train will stop at red lights along the way.
Each streetcar weighs 87,000 pounds. It can travel up to 30 mph. QLINE is powered by a 750-volt lithium ion battery and runs 60 percent off wire, the greatest portion on the United States.
“We’re another option for people to use,” said Domeda Duncan, community relations coordinator at M-1 Rail. “How can we become a more connected city in terms of walkability too? Detroit Bikeshare is going to have one of their bikes on board. You can just take your bike off and go to wherever that next stop is. At Amsterdam, there’s the Amtrak station. You can take the train to Ann Arbor or East Lansing.”
Drivers are encouraged to keep a distance of 16 feet behind the streetcar. In addition, the QLINE has a 20- to 45-second head start to other traffic at some intersections. Pedestrians are encouraged to cross the tracks at marked crosswalks and cross at a right angle. Look up and remove headphones so you can hear the streetcar’s warning bells and horns.
Former WDIV Local 4 anchor Carmen Harlan will serve as the voice of the QLINE. She will announce the upcoming stops as passengers are riding the streetcar.
“In terms of security, we have cameras on board and our drivers also have cameras at the rear,” Duncan added. “They have cameras on the side like rear view mirrors as well. There are also cameras at every station. We’re always trying to think about safety. We’ll have transit police to help. We’ve had several trainings with the Detroit Police Department, Detroit Fire Department, Homeland Security.”
There are several important stops along the QLINE: The Amtrak station at Baltimore street, the new Little Caesars Arena at the Sproat street, the Grand Circus Park station where you can transfer and board the People Mover and of course the end of the line at Congress street in the central business district.
Officials at QLINE say their new streetcar is not meant to compete with The People Mover. Instead, it is here to compliment the transportation of midtown and downtown.
“We have a great relationship with The People Mover, too,” the community relations coordinator said. “They’ve been at the table with us to kind of give us some ideas and feedback. We are operating within a right-of-way. It’s very different than operating above ground. There are a lot of other complexities that we have to take into consideration. We’re an added infrastructure on a big right-of-way.”
Hours of the QLINE are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday thru Thursday, 6 a.m. to 12 midnight on Fridays 8 a.m. to midnight on Saturday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sunday. Those hours can be extended during special events if needed.
Free rides will be offered to everyone for the QLINE’s opening weekend from may 12-14 after that fares will be 1.50 for a three hour window, 75 cents for seniors, $3 for an all day pass or $30 for a monthly pass. Yearly passes will also be offered for $285. Fares can be purchased at each station and on board the streetcar itself.
“Three public areas are going to be activated for grand opening weekend,” Duncan explained. “Wayne State University is going to have some activations at Woodward and Warren, free for the public. Also, at New Center Park where they do the movies. There’s going to be free stuff like that for families. Also, down at Campus Martius Park there’s going to be some free activities. Some of our donors are doing really cool things to kind of hype up grand opening weekend.”
There are 12 stations along the QLINE. Each station will offer free Wi-Fi, heat, security cameras, emergency phones, and screens to alert when the next streetcar will be arriving. In addition, the stations are made of glass and Pewabic Pottery tiles.
The Penske Tech Center, located at the north end, serves as the maintenance, storage and operations hub for QLINE.
You’ll have your chance to ride the new QLINE when it’s opens to the public on Friday, May 12.
Click Here for more information about the QLINE’s Grand Opening Celebration.