Let’s Get Our Move On! (Tomorrow, for free)

Tomorrow finds the People Mover turning 20 years young. To celebrate, the City of Detroit is offering free rides all day.


In truth, I’ve always found the People Mover to be a rather shabby, ill-founded thing–more trouble than it’s worth, really. Unlike the massive subways of New York, DC, or other major cities, the People Mover doesn’t move you very far. It doesn’t take you from the suburbs to the city. It doesn’t take you across town. It shuttles you to and from stations that often can be just as easily reached by walking. If it took you from Cobo to the New Center or Cultural Center, then it would be something.

But how could it be a serious mode of transportation in the Motor City? I’m sure the automotive power players have allowed it to be, regarding it these 20 years with nothing but nudges and winks to each other, encouraging its construction twenty years ago with tongues planted in cheeks. It would never cause any threat to their industry, at least in this city. To them, and to many others, it’s nothing but a coy little joke.

But I’m going for a ride tomorrow. A visit to The People Mover’s website, created by the Detroit Transportation Corporation, has given me an urge to visit The People Mover itself. The site offers pages dedicated to the art at each of the different stations, with interesting descriptions and vivid photos. I’d like to see these all in person. It should be a fine day for riding, stopping off for a nice drink every few stations perhaps.

I truly hope that reliable public transportation is a possibility for Detroit. Groups like Transportation Riders United, or TRU, are fighting for it, and with a new consciousness in America about the climate crisis at hand, maybe some change will occur.

Until then, The People Mover is still a bit of a joke compared to other transit systems in the US. But it’s not a bad little joke, after all. Might as well enjoy it.

3 Comments so far

  1. Tom (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 7:27 am

    I have to say, that compared to subway stations in New York and EL stations in Chicago, Detroit’s people mover stops do have better artwork and are actually cleaner. The people mover is basically a glorified parking garage shuttle.

    Unfortunately, there’s just not enough demand for mass transit in Detroit. There are very few parts of town that are even dense enough to support it. Perhaps in the next 10-20 years we’ll see an expansion to New Center but I doubt we’ll even see a grand scale mass transit system in metro Detroit. The price of oil would either have to skyrocket or the population density would have to increase dramatically.

  2. rick (unregistered) on July 31st, 2007 @ 10:28 am

    Hey Scooter. Nice column. I have to say that I live downtown and I take the DPM more than once a day. Personally, I don’t want it to go down the Woodward corridor to Wayne State. It would be a longer ride for me than it is now.

  3. Kim (unregistered) on August 1st, 2007 @ 1:53 pm

    The People Mover is rather comical. It is enjoyable to ride but it certainly is more a ride than a source of transportation. What is most funny is during XL out-of-towners waited hours to get from Brick Town to Greek Town not quite understanding how walkable/small Detroit really is.

    As for demand for mass transit on a light-rail scale, that is something that is very feasible and wanted in SE MI. The fact that there is “not enough density” to allow for it is a poor argument. Transit creates density. If you observe particularly in DC, where a new station is installed, construction begins on a number of buildings around the station. As for the need for density to make transit work, that is silly. Again, for example, the furthest stops out of DC in the burbs are not dense at all. In fact less dense than areas of SE MI. Many stops are among farms. What is dense is the large parking lot that commuters park their cars in to ride into the city.

    I like to compare Detroit to DC, because much like our town, DC has its fair share of troubles and was a place where the capital area was the only destination to visit for many years. With transit, DC is beginning to improve. Neighborhoods are stabilizing around transit stops and people are moving back into the city.

Terms of use | Privacy Policy | Content: Creative Commons | Site and Design © 2009 | Metroblogging ® and Metblogs ® are registered trademarks of Bode Media, Inc.