Detroit’s QLine extends free rides through Labor Day

Charles E. Ramirez, The Detroit News

Detroit’s QLine is offering its more-than-fair fare through Labor Day.

People prepare to ride the Qline streetcar on Friday May 12, 2017 at the Campus Martius Park station in Detroit.

Officials said Thursday the Kresge Foundation has agreed to cover the the cost of rides on the city’s new streetcar system so passengers can travel free-of-charge.

M-1 Rail, the QLine’s owner and operator, had previously said it would offer free rides until July 1.

“The QLine holds much promise as an integral piece of a true regional transit system and we are invested in its long-term success,” Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a statement. “With dozens of summer festivals and activities up and down the Woodward Corridor, our motivation to extend free fares is to expose every city and metro resident to the QLine.”

The Kresge Foundation, a $3.6 billion private, national foundation that works to expand opportunities in America's cities through grants, has already contributed $50 million to the streetcar project.

Matt Cullen, M-1 Rail’s CEO, said the system appreciates the foundation’s support.

“We are thrilled by the enthusiastic reception the QLine has received in Detroit and across the region,” Cullen said. “We’re building toward our ridership goals and appreciate the support of the Kresge Foundation to provide complimentary service for all riders while we make service improvements that will ensure we can sustain the early success of the QLine.”

M-1 Rail opened the QLine to the public on May 12. The QLine is a 6.6-mile circulating streetcar route that serves 12 locations on Woodward Avenue between downtown Detroit and the New Center.

Officials said during its first month it served more than 100,000 riders, with average vehicle wait times of 20 minutes Monday through Saturday and 30 minutes on Sunday. They said wait times have improved 10 percent in the first month and they have made improving the service a top priority for the next two months.