Detroit — Step up and take a ride on the QLine.
The collection of shiny, new streetcars begins its long-anticipated public runs on Friday.
The first thing one notices is its sleek shape. Each streetcar is 66 feet long, 15 feet high and weighs 87,000 pounds but maneuvers down on tracks on Woodward with ease in between 12 stations along 3.3 miles, connecting the New Center area with Campus Martius downtown.
The hope is that along that stretch of Detroit’s main thoroughfare riders will easily be able to shop, dine and attend sporting and cultural events.
“QLine is not only going to be highly impactful along Woodward Avenue, but it is also the symbolic project that represents the movement of our entire region’s culture from one of separation, conflict and turmoil, to an environment of partnership, cooperation and execution,” said Dan Gilbert, Quicken Loans’ chairman and founder and who is among the core supporters for the transit service.
“This new positive atmosphere will benefit our entire community.”
When the QLine streetcar’s doors slide open, the entrance is noticeably level with the curb. Straps hang from the ceiling, which is what most passengers will use. Hang on, because when the streetcar starts up after stopping at a red light, it may lurch slightly.
Don’t feel like standing? If the streetcar isn’t too crowded, a few rows of seats are available at the back of the streetcar (or front, depending on which way it’s headed). A streetcar can accommodate up to 150 riders.
Pull-down seats are available for senior citizens and those with disabilities. The floor beneath the pull-down seats are marked with the universal sign for disabled spots. All streetcar stations and vehicles will be accessible in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
It’s hard to tell the front of the streetcar from the back as the ends look the same, but that serves a purpose. When the streetcar reaches the end of the track, instead of having to turn around to go in the opposite direction, the conductor simply walks through the streetcar to the cabin at the other end, sits down, presses colorful buttons and the streetcar is back on its way.
“(Riders will) be able to see so many more great things — not just downtown — but they can park their cars and come to see all the cultural events without having to keep paying for parking,” said Lakeisha Solomon, owner of Elite Couture Boutique located between the Warren and Canfield QLine stations at 66 E. Forest.
The QLine operates 6 a.m.-11 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays; 6 a.m.-midnight Fridays; 8 a.m.-midnight Saturdays; and 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Sundays.
M-1 Rail owns and operates six QLine streetcars. M-1 Rail officials say there should be four cars operating at most times. At peak hours and during special events, service will increase. At off-peak hours, fewer cars will be in operation.
Wonder what time the next streetcar arrives? Riders can view one of two screens to see when a streetcar will arrive at their respective stations, which also feature the time and date as well as programming that highlights cultural venues.
Stations are equipped with security cameras and emergency phones. Also, transit police will make random checks on streetcars throughout the day to verify fares.
Once on board, use a laptop or smartphone because Wi-Fi is available. But charge the phone before getting on because riders won’t be able to do it on the streetcar.
The streetcar also is climate-controlled, and if a rider has a bike, he or she can store it on the vertical bike racks.
“We’re hoping for residents from the North End, business people, students and visitors from the suburbs who want to play along the Woodward corridor,” said Matt Cullen, CEO of M-1 Rail.
The ride can tend to be a bit slow, depending on the time of day. Don’t expect to whiz down Woodward any faster than 35 mph, and the average speed of the streetcar will depend on the flow of traffic.
There are 12 stops and 20 stations on both sides of Woodward. Like the People Mover, the QLine stops at every station.
“Stopping at every stop, it might take about 30 minutes,” M-1 Rail spokeswoman Sommer Woods said. “The goal is to get it down to having a streetcar at every station every 20-25 minutes.”
Party starts at 9
Rides are free through Sunday during the opening weekend. Beginning Monday, be prepared to pay $1.50 for a three-hour window, $3 for a day, $30 for a month or $285 for a year-long pass. Riders will be able to get off and on during paid riding windows.
Riders can purchase tickets from the QLine Detroit mobile app and at qlinedetroit.com. They also can buy tickets from vending machines at station platforms. Cash tickets can be purchased on the streetcar. Finally, riders can purchase tickets at the Penske Technical Center, at 7520 Woodward, with a money order or credit card.
For parking before getting on the QLine, riders can find parking maps for the City of Detroit at http://www.detroitmi.gov/parking and other parking operators at http://detroit.bestparking.com/neighborhoods. ParkWhiz is another place to find and book a guaranteed parking space before reaching a destination.
A’elle Masters is eager to arrive early Friday to witness Detroit’s newest sign of rebirth. She will be among the celebrants awaiting the public launch of QLine.
Festivities kick off at around 9 a.m. at the Grand Circus Park station. Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Mike Duggan are among the many politicians and dignitaries expected to attend.
Masters said she is excited to become part of the hoopla.
“Although it won’t be a part of my regular routine, I do plan to take it downtown to visit friends and attend social and sporting events,” said Masters of Detroit. “And my son will be taking summer classes at Wayne State University, so I want him also to experience it.”
Beyond the QLine, look out the windows as the streetcar winds down Woodward and notice upgrades that were part of the $140 million project.
“Woodward Avenue was completely rebuilt for roughly three miles,” M-1 Rail spokesman Dan Lijana said. “There also are new street lights, new traffic lights, sidewalks, roads repaved and new electrical work to power the corridor for a generation.”
Hotel St. Regis
Baltimore Street Station
The Baltimore Gallery
Amtrak Train Station
Detroit Hardware Co.
Wayne State University Integrative Biosciences Center
Mel’s Salon & Associates
Ferry Street Station
College for Creative Studies
Detroit Historical Museum
Main branch of Detroit Public Library
Warren Avenue Station
Detroit Institute of Arts
Wayne State University
Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History
Canfield Street Station
Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit
Majestic Theatre and Garden Bowl
Martin Luther King Boulevard/Mack Avenue Station
Chabad of Greater Downtown Detroit
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Sproat Street/Adelaide Street Station
Ecumenical Theological Seminary
Adjacent to Little Caesars Arena, future home of Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Pistons
Montcalm Street Station
Grand Circus Park Station
The Fillmore Detroit
Detroit Opera House
Detroit Comedy Underground
Campus Martius Station
Campus Martius seasonal events/restaurants/bars
The Lofts at Merchants Row
Citizen Yoga Detroit
Congress Street Station
Coleman A. Young Municipal Building