DPM Expansion

Former Detroit People Mover manager, Marsden Burger is tossing around an idea to expand the automated elvated train system to the New Center area. Personally, I like the system because I use it several times a day. I have even had the luxury of being the last person to use it before they close and I got to ride, non stop, from Cobo Center to Grand Circus Park. Pretty cool ride. I felt like it was my own personal train.

Beyond that, I am against any extention. Why? Because the system, the largest automated transit in the country, doesn’t generate enough income. On average, only 10% of the seats are occupied and it would cost $200 million to extend it three miles to West Grand Boulevard. Those who are proposing this construction claim that ridership is up to 2.4 million in 2006 but that is because of the Super Bowl and the World Series.

The DPM collects about $250,000 in a complete NHL season but it costs an estimated $8.3 million a year in city and state subsidies to keep it running. I am all for a mass transit system and I enjoy riding the People Mover but an expantion is not in the D’s best interests. Besides that, I am selfish because my ride home, if taken via the Woodward corridor, would take much longer! LOL

3 Comments so far

  1. Mollika* (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 4:02 pm

    I would be all for the extension of the PeopleMover. Living downtown and working in midtown, I would love to abandon my car altogether during the working week. It would also give people working in each of the three main hubs to explore lunch options outside of their area. Granted, the loop would be longer, but it would not necessarily have to be one giant loop. I envision the downtown loop remaining what it is, with the midtown/New Center loop being a separate entity.


  2. SD (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 8:40 pm

    You must also figure in, that this loop goes to nowhere. Add the line to New Center and we will actually get riders.


  3. chris_f (unregistered) on January 8th, 2007 @ 10:23 pm

    Two clarifications that most of the media seem to keep missing on this:
    1) the study, which will cost around $200K, and the extension, are to be almost entirely privately funded. Very little public money beyond what the state and city already give DTC (which is separate from DDOT.) Apparently Henry Ford Hospital and DMC have shown strong interest in getting and paying for the extension as it would increase access for patients and staff, and Burger is looking for other partners like Wayne State. The operating costs would be similar to what it already cots because they would just run more cars, as they already have maintenance facilities and staff.

    2) It’s just a study at this point, if Burger gets the funding. The study will determine feasibility, obstacles, stations and stakeholders. If the study looks promising AND deeper pockets want to sign on, it’s a go. If not, no harm done and only a tiny bit of money spent.

    While there are some drawbacks to using the DPM, there are also advantages: DTC is structured to operate such a private-public partnership, while the city or DDOT is not. While lightrail in the Woodward Corridor is both ideal and has been identified as a needed component of the regional transit plan, using an elevated system may alleviate getting through some of the denser areas down Woodward. An extended PM would make an easy connection for the Ann Arbor to Detroit Commuter Rail that SEMCOG has proposed. (On a related note, the AA-Detroit ran up against the difficulty of securing federal money, despite the earmark. This PM proposal bypasses waiting 5-10 years for fed $.)

    Finally, the DetNews keeps throwing around that 10% number, without realizing that unlike the busses, which have different frequencies for on/off-peak hours, DPM runs continuously, and the number of cars are meant to optimize during rush hour as people use it to get to and from parking. Extending or “right-sizing” the route would make it more usable, improve the numbers and justify the cost–if and only if the study looks good.

    Keep up the transit coverage!



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