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  #781  
Old Posted Mar 28, 2020, 5:11 PM
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^ Pre-war Detroit had plenty of functional public transit just like most other cities so that's obviously a lie. It just didn't have a metro system.

I'm not sure why people like you constantly try to make up some theory or alternate history about why Detroit had flight. It's because it was an American city. That's it. It lost people and business for exactly the same reasons every city in this country did. Chicago has lost almost a million people despite it's rail system and that continues. Baltimore has a metro and suffered extreme flight and still shows the highest losses in the country.

Downtown is now full of various companies and has the lowest office vacancy rates in decades despite still not having a metro.
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  #782  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 3:57 AM
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It's true that ridership pushing one mode past its physical limits justifies upgrading to a better mode. But it's also true that service quality drives ridership, and that different modes allow for different service characteristics.

I think the better model for Detroit is Vancouver.

Presumably before the Skytrain they had a good bus system. But the Expo Line was built in an empty rail ROW, so they definitely weren't upgrading an overcapacity bus route. And then the areas the route passes through were completely unremarkable. Single family houses, parks, a small shopping mall. Even New Westminster was tiny at the time.

They kept travel times low by having relatively long station spacing. The stations have good bus connectivity. The trains are automated, so the frequencies are high enough to make transferring from buses painless for riders of choice. You can't do this just by beefing up buses, this depends on the mode. The synergy with the buses improves the whole system. Then they changed land use to develop density nodes around the stations, which also doesn't happen only with buses.


But the thing is, Detroit to Royal Oak today is a better route than Vancouver to New Westminster was before the Expo Line. A full 1/3rd of the route passes through Downtown/Midtown/New Center. Royal Oak is bigger than New Westminster was. The areas in between have better TOD potential.

Then if you look at commuting patterns, there are basically two areas where downtown office workers live, and one of them is the area around Royal Oak, which is an area of 1 Mile grids that's perfectly suited towards bus routes that could very pleasantly collect people and transfer them to the rail line to get downtown, like in Vancouver. And then within the city of Detroit there are popular crosstown routes which are perpendicular to Woodward, and this would make those tremendously more useful.

And on top of that, the #2 and #3 employment centers in the region (Southfield and Troy) are also nearby Royal Oak, a straightforward expansion away. In that scenario a full half of the region's non-manufacturing jobs would be within 3 miles of the line and about 20% within 1 mile.

Building something like that and waiting 30 years for things to mature around the route, people would look back on it and think it was the obvious thing to do, just like in Vancouver, but from the present that's not the perspective that people have.



But I also really do think that the service quality has to be worth the investment. Streetcars are worse than buses in almost every way. Low end light rail service quality can be achieved much more cheaply with bus lanes. Even though these things are on-trend I don't think they really work most of the time. And the least trendy are monorails, but as a technology they make a lot of sense, and around the world there are several great monorail systems.

And for Detroit specifically, there are routes that most people here would say should be upgraded to rail, but I don't. I don't think Gratiot actually makes much sense as a route, beyond receiving good bus service. And then there are routes that no one talks about (people usually default to the spoke roads) which I think actually do make sense. Routes have to make sense, based on commuting patterns, capital costs, operating costs, how it interacts with the rest of the system, TOD potential, etc.
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  #783  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 4:20 AM
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Royal oak seems easier to serve with commuter rail. It's too bad Detroit's railroad station is so far from downtown though.
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  #784  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 8:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
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.
I mean it was definitely light rail. They had different alternatives and some of them had some very intense grade separated sections, but most of it in most of them was either at grade in the median or mixed with traffic. The overhead wires are there but got lost in the scanning, and the platforms don't look very long. Some of the alternatives were more on the higher end range of the light rail spectrum but none of them were metros. Seattle is light rail and they have a lot of grade separation too. imo a lot of "light rail" systems are so watered down that they're really streetcars, but they want to get in on the light rail fad.


Honolulu is definitely a metro system. I've seen it called light rail too, but I think it's just people not knowing what to call it because transit terminology isn't well known and kind of fuzzy to begin with. I've been following the project though and I can't remember if it's ever been called light rail from an official source. I think it's usually generically "rapid transit".

But Honolulu is also not actually related to the Skytrain/People Mover. Early on that seemed to be their intention, and they referenced the SkyTrain and other systems a lot, but in the end they went with conventional motors instead of linear induction motors, so it's more like the Copenhagen Metro, which is also automated.

The switch was a bummer because it would have been nice to have an American LIM-based system to have as a comparable for future transit systems. Right now in the US there's only the Detroit People Mover, and the JFK Airtrain which despite being 8 miles long is still an airport people mover.


And speaking of terminology the SkyTrain has its own issues. The specific transit product's original name was the Intermediate Capacity Transit System, then rebranded to Advanced Rapid Transit, and then rebranded to Innovia Metro (and it might get renamed again with Bombardier selling their rail division). Vancouver called it "light rapid transit" in their planning documents to avoid referring to a specific vendor, until eventually just started calling it rapid transit. Japan and China call it "linear metro" but that includes any LIM-based train, from maglevs to rubber tire systems.

The problem with it not having a general name is that a lot of people think that it's some kind of obscure abandoned proprietary technology, even though several train manufacturers have product pages for them on their websites right now and just about any big train company is capable of making them. And it's not just people on the internet saying it, it's actual professional transit planners in alternatives analyses saying it. I mean you have over 300 miles of it built around the world in the last 20 years and actual transit professionals here don't know anything about it.
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  #785  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 8:55 AM
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Originally Posted by SIGSEGV View Post
Royal oak seems easier to serve with commuter rail. It's too bad Detroit's railroad station is so far from downtown though.
That's the thing. If you live near Royal Oak and work in Detroit, you'd have to take the bus to Royal Oak, wait for the train, take the train, and then unless you worked in New Center you'd have to transfer to another bus or streetcar, and then walk to your destination.

Royal Oak isn't very well suited for park and ride because it has its own parking demands, and part of the appeal of commuter rail is supposed to be not having to deal with downtown parking.

And then with all of the transferring the trip would take forever and if either you or one of the buses or trains are late then you're late to work. People can drive downtown faster and at their own convenience and the cost of parking is worth it.


But with a People Mover expansion, you'd have more stations and some of them would have good park and ride options. Trains would come every ~4 minutes, so you could take the bus or drive to the station at your own convenience. It would take you directly to work without another transfer. And it would run frequently all day. The only inconvenience is the initial bus ride, which could be alleviated by running special high frequency supplementary service along portions of the adjacent bus routes where commuting patterns indicate demand.


Of course commuter rail doesn't cost billions of dollars to build.
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  #786  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 4:26 PM
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I think the point of comments about bus versus rail is that you can buy a whole lot more with buses in service improvements that will make a real difference in building ridership. Rail projects are notoriously expensive and there needs to be an established passenger market to justify the cost. Too often expensive rail projects result in service cuts to the bus network that produces underwhelming results.

Rail in isolation is too inflexible without a robust bus network to support it. Most people's trips need to go beyond the rail line. That is the failing of DART. The supporting bus network is poor.

Be careful in comparing Detroit to Vancouver. Vancouver always had a robust transit system and the Expo Line was created with special funding in preparation for Expo 86. So, a combination of a robust transit system and funding made the Expo Line both a reality and a success. Also, that abandoned rail line was actually a former interurban line and crossed a good portion of Vancouver and suburbs to the historic city of New Westminster. Whether much was low density is not so important. It provided a low cost corridor and spanned a good portion of the city that could be fed by the bus network. Much of the Canada Line in Vancouver also crosses low density suburbs. Rail transit will succeed even in suburbs when there is a big enough passenger catchment area that can efficiently reach rail stations by the bus network. Without the good bus connections, you are really limited to walk in traffic (very limited in low density areas) and Park n Ride lots (requiring a lot of land that could otherwise be used for TOD).
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  #787  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 10:34 PM
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Originally Posted by ardecila View Post
^ 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.
I don't know, I look at Ottawa for example it's basically the same ridership as Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver. There also Dallas, the worst transit ridership and mode share among the big 4 Texas cities, and the one with the most rail by far. Or you can just look at Detroit, compare the falling QLine ridership to the rising SMART ridership. If rail instead of bus is a factor on ridership, it is just a minor one, not enough to justify its cost.

What happened to Detroit, the flight to the suburbs, the hollowing out the core, that probably came first. The decline of the inner city is more likely to be one of the root causes for the decline of transit than the other way around.

Maybe lack of transit makes it harder to get people to return to the city. Lack of transit means one less advantage for the city. Too much demand for parking space in the city also makes it more difficult for development, especially office development. Investing in transit is important for the revitalization of the city, and rail is important part of that, but Detroit is just not at the step yet. They have the People Mover and QLine, that's already more than they should have built.

Again, I think Seattle and Las Vegas should be the models for US systems like Detroit. Honolulu is another high ridership system just mentioned that is also bus-only. Vancouver? In 1991 its system had over 100 million linked trips (around 160-170 million unlinked), basically the same size as Seattle's now. Detroit with around 33 million unlinked trips is not even close to that stage yet. One step at a time.
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  #788  
Old Posted Mar 29, 2020, 10:42 PM
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Dallas was never structured for light rail, they just crammed it in. Detroit on the other hand, was practically built around the streetcars of old.
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  #789  
Old Posted Mar 30, 2020, 8:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lrt's friend View Post
I think the point of comments about bus versus rail is that you can buy a whole lot more with buses in service improvements that will make a real difference in building ridership. Rail projects are notoriously expensive and there needs to be an established passenger market to justify the cost. Too often expensive rail projects result in service cuts to the bus network that produces underwhelming results.

Rail in isolation is too inflexible without a robust bus network to support it. Most people's trips need to go beyond the rail line. That is the failing of DART. The supporting bus network is poor.

Be careful in comparing Detroit to Vancouver. Vancouver always had a robust transit system and the Expo Line was created with special funding in preparation for Expo 86. So, a combination of a robust transit system and funding made the Expo Line both a reality and a success. Also, that abandoned rail line was actually a former interurban line and crossed a good portion of Vancouver and suburbs to the historic city of New Westminster. Whether much was low density is not so important. It provided a low cost corridor and spanned a good portion of the city that could be fed by the bus network. Much of the Canada Line in Vancouver also crosses low density suburbs. Rail transit will succeed even in suburbs when there is a big enough passenger catchment area that can efficiently reach rail stations by the bus network. Without the good bus connections, you are really limited to walk in traffic (very limited in low density areas) and Park n Ride lots (requiring a lot of land that could otherwise be used for TOD).
This is what I'm suggesting for Detroit.

Rail that is fast, to keep travel times low and competitive with driving. High frequencies to facilitate bus transfers. Convenient frequent bus service that feeds into it.

The rail part is important because it enables the speed and frequency which make bus transferring satisfactory to riders of choice, which in turn expands the catchment area. The main route doesn't work without the feeder routes, but the feeder routes don't work either if they don't have something to feed into.


But not every single place throughout Metro Detroit is going to have trips which would interact with this route. There are suburbs 20 miles away from this route, where people don't work along the route and even if they did the bus ride would be impractically long. So the fact that they might have bad bus service doesn't really affect the viability of this route. In the 80s what mattered for the Expo Line were the bus routes in Burnaby. The bus situation in Richmond was unrelated.
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  #790  
Old Posted Oct 7, 2020, 7:37 PM
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In case you aren't following both threads, photo updates (taken yesterday) have been posted on the Gordie Howe International Bridge thread.
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  #791  
Old Posted Nov 17, 2020, 7:26 PM
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I thought this was a pretty impressive photo that MDOT posted yesterday on Instagram. This is a drainage tunnel shaft under construction near the I-75 / I-696 interchange in Oakland County, part of the I-75 modernization project -

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  #792  
Old Posted Nov 18, 2020, 8:46 PM
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The problem with urban areas like Detroit and Dallas is that, unlike Vancouver, much of the damage has already been done.

Yes the street car was very good in Detroit pre-war but that was before the car and more importantly, it's huge inner city freeway system. Vancouver has no freeways so SkyTrain really is faster for a lot of people. Detroit/Dallas on the other hand have massive freeway networks including getting to the downtown.
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  #793  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2020, 9:34 PM
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I posted this on the West Michigan thread, but thought it was worth sharing here too - MDOT posted some pictures on Instagram about a week ago of the progress on the US-31 / I-94 Connector in Berrien County, MI (near Benton Harbor). The project more than four decades in the making will extend US-31 from E. Napier Avenue to I-94 (& more directly to I-196 and downtown Benton Harbor's business loop) -









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  #794  
Old Posted Dec 20, 2020, 11:32 PM
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Four decades? Jeeez.
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  #795  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2021, 4:44 PM
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Four decades? Jeeez.
Yeah. And, almost as long -

After over three decades, some federal funding is secured and visible work is finally happening on the $1 billion new Soo Lock project in Sault Ste. Marie, MI. I included some posts on the recently revived NORTHERN MICHIGAN | General Development thread, to get folks up-to-speed. Llink to them here, and here - if interested.


Source: Duluth News Tribune | Courtesy USACE - Detroit District

Last edited by deja vu; Jan 7, 2021 at 4:09 AM.
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  #796  
Old Posted Jan 6, 2021, 6:24 PM
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Unreal.
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  #797  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 3:56 AM
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Glad to see them rise to the occasion.
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  #798  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 4:12 AM
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^ Bravo.
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  #799  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 5:57 AM
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Lightbulb

I'm not so sure how much the Soo Locks directly affect Detroit, but it will slightly. The US Corps of Engineers have built long and short locks just about everywhere on navigable rivers; Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, and Illinois Rivers. So that is not an unique situation at the Soo Locks. Looking elsewhere on the St. Laurence Seaway, there are single locks at dozens of locales.

The doors to these locks look very heavy, but all are hollow and buoyant, just like any small boat it does not take much effort to move them. It does not take more than a few hours to replace an electrical motor, or replace the linkage arm in case of electrical or mechanical failure. And if the door is damaged beyond repair, there will probably be more drastic issues to be worrying about.

The Soo Locks are closed several months of the years anyways due to thick ice. It is not going to cost shippers much to wait for any repairs to the existing large lock. Having a second large lock is nice, but certainly not more economic damaging as locks failures elsewhere. There is a difference between nice to have, want to have, and need to have.
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  #800  
Old Posted Jan 7, 2021, 11:53 AM
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Originally Posted by electricron View Post
I'm not so sure how much the Soo Locks directly affect Detroit, but it will slightly. The US Corps of Engineers have built long and short locks just about everywhere on navigable rivers; Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio, Arkansas, and Illinois Rivers. So that is not an unique situation at the Soo Locks. Looking elsewhere on the St. Laurence Seaway, there are single locks at dozens of locales.

The doors to these locks look very heavy, but all are hollow and buoyant, just like any small boat it does not take much effort to move them. It does not take more than a few hours to replace an electrical motor, or replace the linkage arm in case of electrical or mechanical failure. And if the door is damaged beyond repair, there will probably be more drastic issues to be worrying about.

The Soo Locks are closed several months of the years anyways due to thick ice. It is not going to cost shippers much to wait for any repairs to the existing large lock. Having a second large lock is nice, but certainly not more economic damaging as locks failures elsewhere. There is a difference between nice to have, want to have, and need to have.
I guess I'm not sure what your point(s) is / are. It sounds like you are trying to downplay the importance and need for this long-overdue infrastructure project. But maybe I'm misunderstanding, and if so, my mistake.

The Soo Locks are incredibly unique - they are the busiest lock system in the world, by cargo tonnage, according to the State. In a typical year, 7,000 - 10,000 ships pass through them. Virtually 100% of the nation's domestic iron ore that is mined in the US - namely, northern Minnesota, must travel through these locks.

Granted, domestic industrial manufacturing is not what it was 50 years ago, but make no mistake, these locks directly impact hundreds, if not thousands, of companies - yes, in Detroit, also in Cleveland, in Buffalo, in all of the lakeshore industry south of Chicago, etc.

The concern isn't about costs to shippers waiting to access the canal. It is about what happens in the eventuality that a lock system over 100 years old fails. As dependent as the domestic steel industry (and all of its related manufacturing operations) is on water-based transport, this definitely seems like a need to have, not a want to have, situation...



Separately, here are a few more photo updates of the temporary M-30 bridge construction (over the Tobacco River in Gladwin County) that MDOT posted yesterday -








Source: Instagram | @mdotpicoftheday
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