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  #761  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 9:28 PM
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How about a demo. It's an urban mistake that should be rectified.
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  #762  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
How about a demo. It's an urban mistake that should be rectified.
Sounds like you're talking about the whole city...
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  #763  
Old Posted Jan 23, 2020, 11:34 PM
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I kid only because I don't think it is. I think it's a solid tech that just needs to be used appropriately. There are so few cities that have aborted mass transit systems that I think judging the peoplemover against any expectations are insane because Detroit is a special breed of city period. One with the most problems but also the most potential.

Personally I would at least LOOK at expanding it or reviving original plans before you throw out all that investment. After all if you truly believe in the revival of Detroit in a way that I have from afar (we get WDIV as the NBC affiliate here in most of rural Canada) than you need to explore all options.
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  #764  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2020, 3:56 PM
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Originally Posted by subterranean View Post
Demo? How about a Highline-style park or covered/heated walking track?
That would be interesting. I'm not sure if it's wide enough for it though. The Highline was built on a multi-track ROW, but the DPM only has a single track, so it would be a narrow walkway. It wouldn't even be wide as a sidewalk.
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  #765  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2020, 4:01 PM
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Originally Posted by canucklehead2 View Post
I kid only because I don't think it is. I think it's a solid tech that just needs to be used appropriately. There are so few cities that have aborted mass transit systems that I think judging the peoplemover against any expectations are insane because Detroit is a special breed of city period. One with the most problems but also the most potential.

Personally I would at least LOOK at expanding it or reviving original plans before you throw out all that investment. After all if you truly believe in the revival of Detroit in a way that I have from afar (we get WDIV as the NBC affiliate here in most of rural Canada) than you need to explore all options.
Detroit's worst mistake was not building a rapid transit system. L.A. was the only pre-war big American city that managed to continue growing in the post-war era without having one. But unlike the other cities, L.A. was not built out by the mid-century.
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  #766  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2020, 6:00 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
That would be interesting. I'm not sure if it's wide enough for it though. The Highline was built on a multi-track ROW, but the DPM only has a single track, so it would be a narrow walkway. It wouldn't even be wide as a sidewalk.
the track bed for the people mover appears to be ~8' wide.

that's more than adequate for an elevated walkway.

but that's all it would be. there wouldn't be room for much in the way of park-like plantings, street furniture, and the other design features of the high line that make it so much more than just an elevated walkway.



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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
L.A. was the only pre-war big American city that managed to continue growing in the post-war era without having one (rapid transit system).
san francisco?

the first BART segments didn't open until 1972.
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Last edited by Steely Dan; Jan 24, 2020 at 6:29 PM.
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  #767  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2020, 7:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
san francisco?

the first BART segments didn't open until 1972.
San Francisco declined in population from the 1950s through the 1980s.
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  #768  
Old Posted Jan 24, 2020, 7:44 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
San Francisco declined in population from the 1950s through the 1980s.
oh, i didn't realize you were only talking about city-proper growth.
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  #769  
Old Posted Jan 25, 2020, 12:01 AM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
People mover is not abandoned but it's unloved because it was never meant to be actual transit.
Not true. DPM projected ridership was 70k weekday passengers upon completion. It was promoted as a heavy usage system that would work both as a standalone, and in conjunction with future rail lines.
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  #770  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 7:17 PM
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Originally Posted by canucklehead2 View Post
Got a quick question for all your long-time Detroiter's... Do you have any online links to old rapid transit plans for the city more especially the plan to expand the Detroit peoplemover city wide? I just find it sad and ironic that the same technology that makes the Vancouver and Dubai metro systems world class is the same one that sits unloved and abandoned above central Detroit... Thanks if anyone has the scoop!
Here are some links to google books:
Downtown Detroit People Mover: Environmental Impact Statement
https://books.google.com/books?id=Ud03AQAAMAAJ&num=19

Public Transportation Alternatives Analysis in Wayne/Oakland/Macomb Counties: Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 1
https://books.google.com/books?id=Gt03AQAAMAAJ&num=19

Public Transportation Alternatives Analysis in Wayne/Oakland/Macomb Counties: Environmental Impact Statement, Volume 2
https://books.google.com/books?id=Nd03AQAAMAAJ&num=19

If the links don't work, you might have luck googling the titles.

So far I've never been able to find any actual plans of expanding the People Mover.

The closest I've been able to find is that in the early 90s a house rep covering Detroit may have gotten some federal money for something related to expansion, but idk how true that really was and I would imagine if anything remotely serious had come of it there would be at least a little bit of information about it online.

There is also the general idea that the original SEMTA plans (linked to above) were People Mover lines, but that's not actually true. As far as I know, the projects were always separate. The light rail was to go from State Fair Grounds, to Downtown, then over on Jefferson almost to Grand Boulevard (it would hit some rail lines that intersected with Jefferson, and also serve that relatively high density area). However, most of the light rail was going to either be elevated or underground, so it was really a substantial system.

I haven't been able to confirm it, but it's possible that the technology selection for the People Mover was related to the Woodward light rail line. The SEMTA IES was from late 1979 and the People Mover EIS was from late 1980, and at that point the technology for the people mover hadn't been chosen yet. It's possible that the SEMTA plan had already failed by the time the PM was choosing their technology, and that they chose that technology so that if the Woodward light rail stuff was tried again it could take the form of a PM expansion. The linear induction motors it uses are smaller flatter and lighter than normal motors, so tunnel diameters can be much smaller/cheaper, and elevated guideways can also be cheaper, so executing the light rail project as a PM expansion would have been cheaper. But that's just my speculation and I haven't been able to find anything to confirm this.

But more about the projects being separate. First, the general SEMTA plan originated from SEMTA itself. The PM was done by SEMTA (until they mismanaged it and Detroit took it over), but initiated by Detroit business interests (actually, the Detroit Renaissance group, who also initiated the Ren Cen), and was part of a federal transit initiative (UMTA's (precursor to the FTA) Downtown People Mover Program). You can see in the EIS that they were separate projects and that they barely even referenced each other. And by its nature, the PM couldn't have included other lines because the federal project was to test the viability of downtown people movers, not to build metro systems. I haven't seen any evidence that the PM was designed for expansion, although the way it happened to work out, it's well suited for it.

And then more recently, in the mid-2000s, around the same time as the failed Woodward light rail stuff, a former manager of the people mover was pushing for an expansion, but it was half baked. http://drcurryassociates.net/expansionroute.html Stations and guideway are put places where they don't actually fit, the map was quickly thrown together and rest of the website wasn't finished, and there was no real analysis of cost or ridership.

So like I said I'm not aware of any serious plans of expanding the People Mover but if anyone has any info I'd love to learn about it.
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  #771  
Old Posted Mar 21, 2020, 10:57 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
Calling the Detroit People Mover and the Vancouver Sky Train the same technology in this situation is a little bit like saying a go-cart and an automobile or a toy boat and a real boat are comparable because they're "the same technology."
It's the exact same system, built by the same company during the same time with the same vehicles, and it even has the same chimes. They are the exact same thing except Detroit's was shaped as a one way circulator loop and Vancouver's was a two way metro line.

There's a small amount of irony though. Detroit has a downtown circulator but no metro. Vancouver has a metro but no downtown circulator. imo Vancouver would be better served by making a DPM-esque circulator loop than by the streetcar circulator that they're currently looking at.

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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
There is no plan to expand it because it's impossible and makes no sense. The city is better off focusing on a dedicated light rail system.
Technologically, it's easy to expand. All that would happen is one of the elevated guideway segments would be replaced to add a rail switch. Maybe one of the stations would be rebuilt for more operating options.

The thing with building a light rail system is that in order for it to have worthwhile service quality, it needs to be grade separated. The expensive part of a People Mover expansion is the elevated guideway, and a proper light rail system would be mostly elevated. A PM expansion would be cheaper to build than Seattle's light rail line which cost $179 million per mile (our expansion would be $100-$150 per mile).

But a PM expansion would have ideal service quality. The People Mover comes twice as frequently all day long as Seattle does during peak hours, has a higher capacity, near perfect reliability, and lower operating costs, than Seattle's light rail line. With more vehicles the People Mover could have max frequencies of something like 75 seconds (possibly lower) which is physically impossible for light rail to do.

For Detroit transit, a People Mover expansion really should be the goal.

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Originally Posted by plutonicpanda View Post
Would it make sense to replace the people move with a two way elevated light rail system?
It would cost like a half billion dollars, and the two way operation would only add a modest ridership bump. Also, there's physically not space for two way stations and two way guideway to fit between the buildings downtown.

However, it's hypothetically possible to make the current system two way by adding some passing tracks. It takes 16 minutes to do the loop, so if you had 4 equidistantly spaced passing tracks you could have trains coming every 4 minutes without them crashing into each other. But it probably wouldn't be worth the cost.

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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
^ Exactly

I don't think there's any hope for the people mover today. It's future is demolition and I think it's a huge eyesore anyway. I want it gone.
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
How about a demo. It's an urban mistake that should be rectified.
The People Mover has, iirc, 4th or 5th highest ridership in the RTA area. AAATA doesn't have any higher routes, and for SMART only the Gratiot bus is higher. DDOT only has a few that are higher than the People Mover and they're not that much higher. The QLine had less ridership even when it was free.

It's also a service that can't be replicated in any other way. It's physically impossible to have the same frequency and speed with an at grade system.

Right now the People Mover is used as a parking shuttle for commuters and event goers. Without the People Mover, downtown's parking would be a lot less efficient and you'd be seeing hundreds of millions of dollars in parking garages built in order to make up the difference.

The People Mover is also used in order to get around during conventions and other events. During big events ridership spikes, and while some of those trips could be made by walking or uber, a lot can't. Imagine how much money the restaurants in Greektown would lose if convention goers and office workers on the west side of downtown stopped going there. What about the hotel rooms that Detroit is still struggling to build? Right now all of the hotels downtown are essentially connected to the convention center, but without the People Mover only a handful are within convenient walking distance.

The People Mover handles 2 million trips per year. Without it, most of those trips don't happen and those trips are business.

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Originally Posted by pianowizard View Post
^I personally do find the People Mover useful, and don't think it's an eyesore. But it's a huge money sink, costing the city and state over $10 million each year. I agree its future is demolition.
The People Mover is about $10 million per year and has about 2 million trips per year, and DDOT is $126 million per year and has about 25 million trips, so they're on par with each other. The subsidy per trip is similar to many SMART routes.

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Originally Posted by Crawford View Post
Not true. DPM projected ridership was 70k weekday passengers upon completion. It was promoted as a heavy usage system that would work both as a standalone, and in conjunction with future rail lines.
The People Mover is explicitly called a circulator/distributor in all documents related to it. It's even in the name. People movers are a category of transportation system which fulfill circulation/distribution functions (at airports, amusement parks, downtowns, universities, etc.).

The projected ridership was for 1990, a decade after the EIS, and a 7 years after the intended opening date. The numbers optimistically assume that the decline in the 1970s would be reversed and that downtown would flourish. They also assumed that some projects would happen that didn't. For example, they have Cadillac Centre being the most heavily used station, presumably because there was supposed to be a big urban shopping mall there connected to a still-open Hudsons. I'm also guessing that they didn't have a good way of modeling circulator services (which was part of the point of the federal government's program in the first place). Even if you assumed today's daytime population, to get to 71,000 trips per day you'd "only" need about 1/3rd of people to make one round trip a day, but obviously that was way off.

Last edited by Jasoncw; Mar 21, 2020 at 11:14 PM.
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  #772  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2020, 1:33 PM
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Originally Posted by Steely Dan View Post
the track bed for the people mover appears to be ~8' wide.

that's more than adequate for an elevated walkway.

but that's all it would be. there wouldn't be room for much in the way of park-like plantings, street furniture, and the other design features of the high line that make it so much more than just an elevated walkway.




san francisco?

the first BART segments didn't open until 1972.
Didn't San Francisco run its Muni light rail/streetcar system without interruption unlike LA and Detroit that shutdown all rail transit in the 50s and 60s?

Also, they started planning BART soon after the 1958 shutdown of the Key System across the Bay bridge. I would say that BART is much better than the Key System was at its peak simply because BART is true rapid transit, while the Key System was only rapid transit while on the Bay bridge, otherwise a bunch of streetcar lines.
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  #773  
Old Posted Mar 22, 2020, 1:49 PM
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Originally Posted by iheartthed View Post
San Francisco declined in population from the 1950s through the 1980s.
pretty well all urban areas lost population because of shrinking household sizes after the baby boom ended in the 60s. Most cities continued grow through suburban development.
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  #774  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2020, 5:31 AM
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Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
pretty well all urban areas lost population because of shrinking household sizes after the baby boom ended in the 60s. Most cities continued grow through suburban development.
That is true but Detroit in particular suffered from the double whammy of the post-war "white flight" where the whites fled to the suburbs and took their spending power, taxes, and political influence with them.
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  #775  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2020, 10:33 PM
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People need to forget about rail for places like this, seriously. Rail follows high ridership, not the other way around. Dallas has a massive rail system, but very similar transit ridership and transit mode share to Detroit. Building rail makes zero difference. US cities like this need to start focusing on regular bus. Regular bus service is the foundation, BRT and light rail and subway is on top of that foundation. No rapid transit system can be successful in isolation. You need a complete network: full coverage of a metropolitan area and minimal walking distances.

Seattle and Las Vegas, those should be the models among US cities. Seattle had 4 times higher ridership than Detroit has now before it finally built an LRT line not long ago. Las Vegas has 2 times higher ridership than Detroit and still no rail. Rail is not a solution for too low ridership, it's a solution for too high ridership, and Las Vegas isn't at that point yet, let alone Detroit. This continued obsession with rail is just pointless. Lack of rail isn't the reason why most people don't use transit in Dallas, and it's not the reason why most people don't use transit in Detroit. Lack of buses is the real problem.
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  #776  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2020, 11:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Doady View Post
People need to forget about rail for places like this, seriously. Rail follows high ridership, not the other way around. Dallas has a massive rail system, but very similar transit ridership and transit mode share to Detroit. Building rail makes zero difference. US cities like this need to start focusing on regular bus. Regular bus service is the foundation, BRT and light rail and subway is on top of that foundation. No rapid transit system can be successful in isolation. You need a complete network: full coverage of a metropolitan area and minimal walking distances.

Seattle and Las Vegas, those should be the models among US cities. Seattle had 4 times higher ridership than Detroit has now before it finally built an LRT line not long ago. Las Vegas has 2 times higher ridership than Detroit and still no rail. Rail is not a solution for too low ridership, it's a solution for too high ridership, and Las Vegas isn't at that point yet, let alone Detroit. This continued obsession with rail is just pointless. Lack of rail isn't the reason why most people don't use transit in Dallas, and it's not the reason why most people don't use transit in Detroit. Lack of buses is the real problem.
Agree 100%
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  #777  
Old Posted Mar 27, 2020, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Jasoncw View Post
There is also the general idea that the original SEMTA plans (linked to above) were People Mover lines, but that's not actually true. As far as I know, the projects were always separate. The light rail was to go from State Fair Grounds, to Downtown, then over on Jefferson almost to Grand Boulevard (it would hit some rail lines that intersected with Jefferson, and also serve that relatively high density area). However, most of the light rail was going to either be elevated or underground, so it was really a substantial system.

I haven't been able to confirm it, but it's possible that the technology selection for the People Mover was related to the Woodward light rail line. The SEMTA IES was from late 1979 and the People Mover EIS was from late 1980, and at that point the technology for the people mover hadn't been chosen yet. It's possible that the SEMTA plan had already failed by the time the PM was choosing their technology, and that they chose that technology so that if the Woodward light rail stuff was tried again it could take the form of a PM expansion.
I wouldn't read too much into the terminology of "light rail" in that report.

"Light rail" back then was not strictly the tram concept we're familiar with today... it was kind of a catch-all term for anything between a streetcar and a full-fledged subway system. People still use the term flexibly today sometimes - the Honolulu Rail project is often called "light rail" despite being identical to SkyTrain or the People Mover.

Also, the renderings in those reports, while pretty vague, clearly show a system with short, subway-style cars, elevated tracks, and no overhead wires... so definitely not a tram.
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  #778  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2020, 1:34 AM
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Lack of buses is the real problem.
You're barking up the wrong tree here. Detroit is not preoccupied with rail. Every mass transit proposal and expansion focuses heavily on buses and BRT.
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  #779  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2020, 6:07 AM
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Originally Posted by The North One View Post
You're barking up the wrong tree here. Detroit is not preoccupied with rail. Every mass transit proposal and expansion focuses heavily on buses and BRT.
I didn't just say Detroit should focus heavily on buses, I said they should ignore any further rail completely. Anyways, I was mostly responding to the recent discussion in this thread, which has been all about rail, including statements like not building rapid transit being Detroit's worst mistake.
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  #780  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2020, 3:24 PM
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^ it’s hard to argue an alternate history. That initial study was 41 years ago. Perhaps Detroit, both it’s neighborhoods and downtown, would not have fallen so far, so fast with a rail system in place. Perhaps today it would be a far more transit-oriented city - probably not on the level of Chicago or New York, but certainly like Los Angeles or Atlanta.

Obviously Detroit had serious economic issues with de-industrialization that would have happened either way, but the lack of a functional transit system is a big reason why Detroiters were able to abandon the inner-city and employers to abandon the downtown to such a large extent.
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