Transit in Detroit
November 25, 2005 7:13 PM   Subscribe

Transit in Detroit details an urban planner's initiative to cut the costs of the city's traffic congestion-relieving highway expansion by proposing a transit system combining light rail and bus-rapid-transit. [More Inside]
posted by gregb1007 (15 comments total)
The main benefit is cost-savings since a rail track would accomodate more riders per mile than a highway lane. However, Kami Pothukuchi, the urban planner interviewed for the article promises other benefits by drawing on the case studies of what a similar project accomplished in Salt Lake City and Denver. According to her, the decision to build transit instead of expanding highways in Salt Like City and Denver has apparently preserved otherwise-to-be-destroyed green space in both cities. Pothukuchi also cites other benefits of transit construction for the two cities such as the reduction of sprawl and the associated public utility costs associated with water and sewage expansion.
posted by gregb1007 at 7:18 PM on November 25, 2005

"case studies of what a similar project accomplished in Salt Lake City and Denver"

After living in Detroit for 20+ years I can say with confidence that Detroit is no Salt Lake or Denver. The current regime is corrupt and the city's tax base falls short of covering basic services like trash removal. Good luck.
posted by Sagres at 7:37 PM on November 25, 2005

This thread looks nothing like Che Guevara.
posted by DonnieSticks at 8:35 PM on November 25, 2005

It is harder to get mugged in a moving car.
posted by tweak at 8:54 PM on November 25, 2005

Good mass transit would be fucking great for detroit. But the detroit metro area is the least dense of any in the U.S., so it wouldn't be as great as it could be. For this and other reasons, it's probably not politically feasable.
posted by Tlogmer at 9:02 PM on November 25, 2005

Oh, but with good public transit, people wouldn't even have to buy, maintain, and fuel cars!

Oh, wait, they make them there...or, they used to.
posted by Goofyy at 10:21 PM on November 25, 2005

Actually, Goofy, no matter how good the transit in Detroit may be, people will still have to have cars. Most American transit systems are only good for trips from suburbs into downtown. All other non downtown directed trips would have done by car, otherwise they would be unbearably time consuming...
posted by gregb1007 at 10:33 PM on November 25, 2005

Tlogmer, part of the point of the article is creating a new social contract that emphasizes density. I really think this is a crucial step that hasn't percolated up to the national planning level -- that sprawl is a big part of the horribly unbalanced housing market we have.
posted by dhartung at 10:43 PM on November 25, 2005

No doubt - Detroit is a classic American city. Why the city can't get it's shit together is beyond me. Good luck with any all public transit ideas - it's certainly the way to go for sustainability.
posted by wfrgms at 11:34 PM on November 25, 2005

I can't think of a place in the country less likely to succeed with major mass transit initiatives than the Detroit metro area.
Minimal core-city employment? Check. Minial core-city amenties to support first-wave densification/gentrification? Check. Really cold in the winter? Check. Actual and perceived unsafety of existing mass transit? Check.
posted by MattD at 4:35 AM on November 26, 2005

Well, one main problem with the idea of public transit in Detroit is that everyone keeps wanting to move as far away from the city as possible, and they want to stay as far from the city as possible, too. The people have been fleeing north and west so far that they're to Flint and Ann Arbor.
posted by dagnyscott at 7:39 AM on November 26, 2005

Believe it or not, the urban planning and architecture schools here at UM had a symposium on mass transit attended by people from Ford Motor Company. The Ford reps felt like mass transit was a good idea, as they have begun to realize that people associate negative feelings with their products if they are constantly stuck in traffic. It's a bit of a "right idea for the wrong reasons" but maybe it's a start. It's certainly a change from Henry Ford's insistence on highway development and resistance to any mass transit.

I think one problem with mass transit in Detroit would be where would it go? The major commute is from Washtenaw and Livingston counties west of Detroit to Southfield/Troy/Royal Oak/Auburn Hills. Or from the far north to same.
posted by Slothrop at 7:50 AM on November 26, 2005

I live 25 miles from Detroit, and the only time I go there is to pass through on my way to Windsor....

Detroit died in the '60's, best to just bury it and start over.....
posted by HuronBob at 8:17 AM on November 26, 2005

Why the city can't get it's shit together is beyond me.

This is a sadly common attitude around michigan. Detroit can't get its shit together because it lost its entire tax base to the suburbs while the people who once comprised that base continued to use city infrastructure.
posted by Tlogmer at 4:27 PM on November 26, 2005

Tlogmer is right. We hire and train cops, who work for a year, then go to a job in the suburbs. We provide the minimum wage workers at your local mall (and they spend 6 hours a day waiting for and on busses to get to those part time, no benefit jobs).

Detroit has had consistant weekly trash pickup for at least the last 4 years. But, nevermind that.

Yeah, the city is corrupt. But, go look at who donated to both Kwame and Hendrix in the last election. White people from Oakland Co.

Come live in the city, and you'll see it isn't being run for the residents.
posted by QIbHom at 12:42 PM on November 28, 2005

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