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Detroit — The clock is ticking for the end of QLine free rides.

Riders have ridden free since the QLine debuted to the public May 12 but beginning Tuesday, though riders will have to choose whether to pay $1.50 for three hours, $3 for an all-day pass, $30 for a monthly pass or $285 for an annual pass.

Tickets can be bought on the QLine Detroit iTunes mobile app and at qlinedetroit.com. Ticket vending machines are available at each of the 12 platform stops, and cash tickets can be purchased on the streetcars.

“We will be providing ambassadors on board the streetcars and on platforms for at least two weeks to help passengers with any questions, “ said M-1 Rail spokesman Dan Lijana.

Detroit’s new 3.3-mile streetcar service has seen growth in daily ridership, an increase in the number of operators and shorter wait times, according to an M-1 Rail report in July.

The wait between streetcars at the Congress stop Tuesday afternoon was only 11 minutes, which is better than the average 15 minute wait and the M-1 Rail goal of 12 minutes.

Marc Crossman was among several people waiting at the Congress stop as rain pelted the covered platform.

He said he plans to continue riding the QLine once the free rides end.

“It’s real convenient to get downtown and I like that it’s one of the newer attractions in the city ...,” said Crossman, 35, of Detroit. “I ride it fairly frequently, like earlier in the summer I rode it to Hart Plaza and to the RiverWalk.”

During a news conference held Tuesday on a QLine streetcar, CEO Matt Cullen praised the staff and the riders, and discussed the work yet to be done. He was joined by Kresge Foundation CEO and President Rip Rapson; M-1Rail COO Paul Childs; Sommer Woods, vice president of external relations; and Lijana.

“We want to put a bow on the launch,” he said. “I give it an ‘A’ as far as getting the streetcars here, getting them up and running and building a team.”

But he was tougher on the operations end of it.

“ ... I’ll give it a C plus because I think we can do a lot better,” said Cullen.

Cullen said they needed to stress to drivers about how share the road with the Qline.

“We’re working to educate people about things like not parking in front of the streetcar lanes even for a minute to run in and grab a coffee and, for example, when cars are lined up to enter a parking deck, we’re asking if the workers there can redirect that line so it won’t interfere with the QLine path.”

He said reaction during the free-ride promotion “provided us an opportunity to take all the great feedback we’ve received from riders and incorporate it into service before we began collecting fares.”

Ridership has increased from an average of 4,000 trips per day the week of June 12 to an average of 6,300 the week of July 17, according to the report. The system expects to average 5,000 daily trips during its first full year of revenue operations. To better meet ridership demands, M-1 Rail has increased the number of streetcars operating during peak ridership hours. QLine now runs five streetcars from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m Mondays through Saturdays.

The rides remained free through Labor Day with the support from the Kresge Foundation.

Among other improvements noted in the M-1 Rail report:

QLine has worked with MDOT and the city of Detroit to improve traffic signal timing at the intersections of Burroughs, Montcalm and Campus Martius. At Congress, an approaching QLine streetcar now triggers a signal change.

The service no longer stops at every station unless passengers are boarding or exiting the streetcar. It stops at stations with waiting passengers or when onboard passengers push the stop button.

The streetcars are now operating approximately 80 percent off-wire due to higher than expected battery performance, eliminating unnecessary charge time on the route. Since the QLine launched, transit police have issued 30 tickets and towed seven cars.

slewis@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2296

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