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Old 04-07-2017, 09:37 AM
 
74 posts, read 60,769 times
Reputation: 205

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So on the eve of the opening of the Qline everyone is much excited about public transit in Detroit. Well that's is all well and good, I would like my fellow public transit supports to push a little further, ask a little more, and discuss the possibility of advancing Detroit's public transit infrastructure with an expansion of the People Mover.

Now I've had this idea in my head of a couple of days now, and I'd like to lay out an argument which could completely change the way people live and experience Detroit. It’s not a new idea (http://drcurryassociates.net/DetroitPeopleMover2.html), but I feel it should stay in the public conscience, and should be brought to the attention of those who could make it happen.

The crux of the proposal is building a new platform at the Grand Circus station which supports two sets of rails running in both directions to make a new People Mover line out to the New Center Amtrak station, preferable in a large loop running along the I-75 and Lodge corridors, which can be built in piecewise expansions. Funding would be supported by the public and business interests of Downtown/Midtown/New Center Detroit, and that stations would only be built at the institutions which finance the construction their own stations. The City would just be responsible for oversight and maintenance of the system, and connecting the dots between the stations. When I'm talking about public and business interests of Downtown/Midtown/New Center Detroit I'm referring to:

Gilbert/Gores/Olympia entertainment and their respective stadiums/arenas
Eastern Market Corporation
Detroit Medical Center
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Wayne State University
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Detroit Institute of Arts
Michigan Science Center
College for Creative Studies
Amtrak
Henry Ford Hospital
MotorCity Casino
MGM Grand, and
Detroit Public Schools

All of these players have incentives to help create reliable, efficient public transit in Detroit.

The beauty of expanding the People Mover is that the equipment (cars, control systems) and expertise (staff, maintenance) are already present in Detroit. The city knows how to construct the maintain pillars and tracks the cars ride on, new cars do not need to be purchased, and the control systems and storage sheds are already bought. The systems is also proven, as it’s 30 years old, has run nearly flawlessly the entire time, and has had only one reported death do to a system failure. Bringing in a new system like the street cars created move overhead, which the City should be avoiding.

Last edited by michikawa; 04-07-2017 at 10:16 AM..
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Old 04-07-2017, 09:56 AM
 
74 posts, read 60,769 times
Reputation: 205
Here are some images of proposed expansions.


Proposal for initial expansion of the People Mover


Proposal for second expansion of the People Mover


Alternative initial expansion of the People Mover
Attached Thumbnails
Proposal to expand the People Mover-2017-04-07_9-56-31-1.jpg   Proposal to expand the People Mover-2017-04-07_9-56-31-2.jpg   Proposal to expand the People Mover-2017-04-07_9-56-31-3.jpg  

Last edited by michikawa; 04-07-2017 at 10:28 AM..
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Old 04-07-2017, 09:58 AM
 
74 posts, read 60,769 times
Reputation: 205
The proposed expansions are just examples, and the lines can criss-cross, the Lodge and 75 as frequently as deemed necessary by the city to incorporate Lafayette Park, Poletown, North End, LaSalle Gardens, Woodbridge, Corktown, and other adjacent neighborhoods into the system.

A super useful aspect is that the system is essentially modular. If a developer wanted to construct a midrise or parking ramp with People Mover access, the line can be adjusted to do so. The city can also construct new stations between older stations when the surrounding neighborhood has the demand to support a station.

I can't really predict what a transit system like this would do to Detroit, by I can try. Downtown/Midtown/New Center would have the appeal of the Vegas Strip with the interconnected casinos and stadiums. The linking of all Medical Centers would create a medical research cluster which could end up like Pittsburgh's. Urbanophiles who can't stand the cold can travel to and from work with shopping in-between without ever stepping outside. Handicap accessible living/employment arrangements would created a working segment which is fiercely loyal to the City.

The Qline has shown Metro Detroit that public transit can be brought to fruition in Detroit. A People Mover expansion is achievable. Toronto (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Line_3_Scarborough) has a similar line and Vancouver (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SkyTrain_(Vancouver)) has been expanding theirs for years, the technology is still supported. The initial expansion would cost somewhere in the ballpark of twice the Qline, but have significantly better speeds, on-time performance, and throughputs. Tell you friends, convince your families, and if you have the ear one of the CEOs of Downtown Detroit, please direct them to this post.

Last edited by michikawa; 04-07-2017 at 10:35 AM..
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Old 04-07-2017, 12:01 PM
 
74 posts, read 60,769 times
Reputation: 205
https://vimeo.com/29666187


One of the original architects of the People Mover argues (at length) that initially the system was a Federal Government pilot project to demonstrate automated public transportation, and the technology's ability to reduce public transit's cost to breakeven.


This is super fascinating with respect to the current automation push in the automotive sector.


I recommend only listening to the video like a podcast, as the video isn't much to look at.
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Old 04-07-2017, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,759 posts, read 65,606,514 times
Reputation: 32943
The people mover was such a fiasco, it might be hard to get support from anyone who was alive/aware at the time it was built.

Even now it is underutilized.

"The Mover costs $12 million annually in city and state subsidies to run.[13] The cost-effectiveness of the Mover has drawn criticism.[14] In every year between 1997 and 2006, the cost per passenger mile exceeded $3, and was $4.26 in 2009,[15] compared with Detroit bus routes that operate at $0.82[15] (the New York City Subway operates at $0.30 per passenger mile). The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also charges that the system does not benefit locals, pointing out that fewer than 30% of the riders are Detroit residents and that Saturday ridership (likely out-of-towners) dwarfs that of weekday usage.[13] The system was designed to move up to 15 million riders a year. In 2008 it served approximately 2 million riders. This meant the system averaged about 7,500 people per day, about 2.5 percent of its daily peak capacity of 288,000."

Look at ridership through 2016, it is getting up around 2.2 million a year and got to almost 2.5 million one year, but that is still a tiny percentage of capacity.

It is probably used more now by residents than it was becuase there are now more residents downtown. However if a resident has a bicycle, I do not see why they would ever use the PM. It just doesn't go anywhere and it is slow. By the time you walk to the station, climb the stairs and wait for a train, you could have been to your destination and back on a bicycle.

When I worked at the RenCen, I used it rarely. In one direction it made sense, in the other direction, I could walk much faster than the time it took to ride around to my destination. Since it only goes in one direction, either your trip or your return will require that you ride it almost all the way around. Now that I am at Campus Martius, I find it is always faster to just walk.
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Old 04-07-2017, 01:24 PM
 
74 posts, read 60,769 times
Reputation: 205
These are the usual arguments and they are valid for the current People Mover. Its configuration was set up not to be profitable, not to service the community, and not designed to be convenient to use. How many residents were living in American Central Business Districts in the 80s? How many public transit systems only go in one direction? It's a boondoggle, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

The automated people mover technology used by the system is the cheapest in North America. Vancouver's Skytrain beats all other systems on O&M per rider (http://www.translink.ca/-/media/Docu...ncy_Report.pdf) (see page 9), even NYCs. It's really a question of is there demand for a People Mover expansion outside of downtown, which there appears to be as office and residential space is drying up. There's already vacant offices and housing in New Center and one would not need to wait for enough high rises to get built downtown to match demand. Future integration of the planned higher-speed trains to/from Chicago, and commuters from Pontiac and Ann Arbor would also be significantly complemented by fast, efficient transport downtown.

As for the anecdotes, I too would walk to my destination instead of using the current People Mover if I was going somewhere that required back tracking along the line, and if I had my bike, I'd never use it, but not all people are as blessed to be as fit and able-bodied as me. I know I would like to take a ride over to Eastern Market after work (I realize they don't keep hours like this right now) from my downtown office and grab some groceries for dinner while simultaneously avoiding rush hour, and creating efficient public transits connections within the city would allow me to more easily do that. The People Mover is just the lowest hanging fruit downtown for accomplishing it.

Last edited by michikawa; 04-07-2017 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 04-07-2017, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Grosse Ile Michigan
27,759 posts, read 65,606,514 times
Reputation: 32943
Not following.

So why would you duplicate the Q line with an expanded people mover that goes to the same place only slower?

Oh and where is the funding coming from? Looks like we need roughly $8 billion.
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Old 04-07-2017, 04:58 PM
 
74 posts, read 60,769 times
Reputation: 205
The People Mover expansions I've suggested run peripheral to the Woodward corridor, and provide access to the neighborhoods immediately adjacent Downtown/Midtown/New Center, which the Qline does not. The Qline is also only funded for 10 years under the current private-public agreement.

The People Mover, and its potential expansions have dedicated right of way, thus not dealing with traffic, parked cars, jaywalkers, or dogs. The Vancouver Skytrain runs at an average 27 mph, stops included, and any expansion to the People Mover will most certainly run faster than a streetcar on Woodward after a sporting event.

The number you've used is hyperbole. Vancouver's Skytrain Evergreen Extension, completed in Dec 2016, had a budget of $1.431 billion (CAD) and came in 70 million under for 6 stations at 6.8 miles. This extension was through mountains, not through abandoned property, parallel to a freeway right of way, but for the sake of a fair estimate, I'll disregard currency conversion and geographic considerations.

Vancouver = Cost/miles/stations = 1.361/6.8/6 = 33 million/mile/station

The distance between Grand Circus and New Center is about 5 miles for my proposed extension, and I'll propose 5 stations, Stadiums/Eastern Market/Hospitals/Cultural Center/Amtrak.

Detroit = Cost/miles/stations * miles * stations = 33 * 5 *5 = $825 million

The estimated cost of Qline construction is $142 million and I stated in my initial post that funding for an expanded People Mover would come from a public-private agreement, much like the Qline. The stations would be built by those who want a connection to the line, and the City would be responsible for finding the funds to connect the stations. An expanded People Mover may not require the purchasing of new cars, as the system is already over supplied.

Other benefits of an expanded People Mover is less legacy cost, as no operators need to be hired to operate the vehicles, and late night service, again because there are no operators.

At 27 mph, 5 miles is covered in about 11 minutes.

Last edited by michikawa; 04-07-2017 at 05:24 PM..
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Old 04-07-2017, 06:59 PM
 
Location: Detroit
3,671 posts, read 4,804,183 times
Reputation: 2624
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coldjensens View Post
The people mover was such a fiasco, it might be hard to get support from anyone who was alive/aware at the time it was built.

Even now it is underutilized.

"The Mover costs $12 million annually in city and state subsidies to run.[13] The cost-effectiveness of the Mover has drawn criticism.[14] In every year between 1997 and 2006, the cost per passenger mile exceeded $3, and was $4.26 in 2009,[15] compared with Detroit bus routes that operate at $0.82[15] (the New York City Subway operates at $0.30 per passenger mile). The Mackinac Center for Public Policy also charges that the system does not benefit locals, pointing out that fewer than 30% of the riders are Detroit residents and that Saturday ridership (likely out-of-towners) dwarfs that of weekday usage.[13] The system was designed to move up to 15 million riders a year. In 2008 it served approximately 2 million riders. This meant the system averaged about 7,500 people per day, about 2.5 percent of its daily peak capacity of 288,000."

Look at ridership through 2016, it is getting up around 2.2 million a year and got to almost 2.5 million one year, but that is still a tiny percentage of capacity.

It is probably used more now by residents than it was becuase there are now more residents downtown. However if a resident has a bicycle, I do not see why they would ever use the PM. It just doesn't go anywhere and it is slow. By the time you walk to the station, climb the stairs and wait for a train, you could have been to your destination and back on a bicycle.

When I worked at the RenCen, I used it rarely. In one direction it made sense, in the other direction, I could walk much faster than the time it took to ride around to my destination. Since it only goes in one direction, either your trip or your return will require that you ride it almost all the way around. Now that I am at Campus Martius, I find it is always faster to just walk.
To be fair... the biggest reason the people mover is underutilized is because it only goes around in a circle and only downtown. I'm sure it would get much much more ridership if it actually connected to neighborhoods and other points of interest.
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Old 04-07-2017, 11:25 PM
 
1,851 posts, read 2,294,950 times
Reputation: 1864
Quote:
Originally Posted by michikawa View Post
So on the eve of the opening of the Qline everyone is much excited about public transit in Detroit. Well that's is all well and good, I would like my fellow public transit supports to push a little further, ask a little more, and discuss the possibility of advancing Detroit's public transit infrastructure with an expansion of the People Mover.

Now I've had this idea in my head of a couple of days now, and I'd like to lay out an argument which could completely change the way people live and experience Detroit. It’s not a new idea (http://drcurryassociates.net/DetroitPeopleMover2.html), but I feel it should stay in the public conscience, and should be brought to the attention of those who could make it happen.

The crux of the proposal is building a new platform at the Grand Circus station which supports two sets of rails running in both directions to make a new People Mover line out to the New Center Amtrak station, preferable in a large loop running along the I-75 and Lodge corridors, which can be built in piecewise expansions. Funding would be supported by the public and business interests of Downtown/Midtown/New Center Detroit, and that stations would only be built at the institutions which finance the construction their own stations. The City would just be responsible for oversight and maintenance of the system, and connecting the dots between the stations. When I'm talking about public and business interests of Downtown/Midtown/New Center Detroit I'm referring to:

Gilbert/Gores/Olympia entertainment and their respective stadiums/arenas
Eastern Market Corporation
Detroit Medical Center
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
Wayne State University
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Detroit Institute of Arts
Michigan Science Center
College for Creative Studies
Amtrak
Henry Ford Hospital
MotorCity Casino
MGM Grand, and
Detroit Public Schools

All of these players have incentives to help create reliable, efficient public transit in Detroit.

The beauty of expanding the People Mover is that the equipment (cars, control systems) and expertise (staff, maintenance) are already present in Detroit. The city knows how to construct the maintain pillars and tracks the cars ride on, new cars do not need to be purchased, and the control systems and storage sheds are already bought. The systems is also proven, as it’s 30 years old, has run nearly flawlessly the entire time, and has had only one reported death do to a system failure. Bringing in a new system like the street cars created move overhead, which the City should be avoiding.
With the construction of the QLine, the ship has sailed on an extension of the People Mover to midtown and New Center.

The Qline is such as an inferior alternative to an extension of the People Mover, however. I too remember back in 2004 when the original manager of the People Mover proposed a 2-way extension of the People Mover that would run through the Midtown and New Center. The PeopleMover won't get stuck in traffic, and the proposed extension only had about 6 stations, so it would move a lot faster than the QLine. The guy said it would cost $150-200 million to build - not that much more than the QLine's $133 million.

I wouldn't mind seeing an extension that would go down Michigan Avenue thru Corktown (where the Michigan Central Station would once again be an Amtrak stop), then it would head down to the promising Bagley Avenue strip that's west of the rail tunnel to Canada, and then ending at the Mexicantown restaurant strip. Also, an extension down Jefferson to Belle Isle.
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