Detroit opens first streetcar line since the 1950s

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Ribbon-cutting ceremonies await passengers ready to board Brookville Equipment Corp. streetcars for the first public rides of Detroit's Q-Line streetcar on Friday, May 12. Streetcar rides are free all weekend.
Bob Johnston
DETROIT — The Motor City brought streetcars back to Woodward Avenue for the first time since their last run on April 8, 1956, Friday with the completion of a 3.3-mile $180 million light rail line that took 10 years to build and finance.

What makes the Q Line's construction "unprecedented," as former U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood once described it, is that more $100 million of the money came from local businesses and philanthropic donations.

Industrialist Roger Penske, Dan Gilbert of Quicken Loans, and other community movers and shakers who were determined to make the project a reality in spite of widespread skepticism, were among those at inaugural festivities kicking off a weekend of free rides.

The line connects Detroit's New Center business area with the downtown riverfront district.

Through May 21, Amtrak and the Michigan Department of Transportation are offering $5 one-way fares ($2.50 for children ages 2 to 12) from Ann Arbor, Dearborn, Royal Oak, Troy, and Pontiac, Mich., to the Detroit station, a half block from the Baltimore Street Q Line stop near the Penske Tech Center maintenance facility in New Center. Tickets are available online and at the staffed stations.

The weekend of May 13, merchants along the route who have put up with years of construction headaches while the entire roadway and underground utilities were rebuilt, are offering special discounts.

The six two-section streetcars, built by Brookville in Pennsylvania, use lithium-ion technology to run both on battery power at the ends of the route and catenary in the middle. This enables the line to shift from curbside running to the median, depending upon the neighborhood.

Normally, four streetcars will be active except for special events.

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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