Is QLINE a Boon or Boondoggle for Detroit?

Experts and listeners react to the city’s new 3.3-mile streetcar system.

Rebecca Hanna/WDET

Detroit’s new QLINE streetcar system has been up and running for about a week. That’s after about a decade of political and financial wrangling that threatened to scrap the project. With fares free all week and excitement over the shiny new streetcars, ridership has been strong so far. That said, critics see new the QLINE as an embarrassing excuse for transit in a community that so badly lacks public transportation options. 

Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United speaks with Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson about the QLINE and its potential impact on Detroit. 

“I really do see it as a step forward,” says Owens. “(The QLINE) is a convenient, attractive way to get up and down one of the busiest corridors in our entire metro region.” 

Reporter Bill Bradley, author of a recent article in CityLab, “The Streetcar Boondoggle Continues, This Time in Detroit,” offers a different opinion of the new transit system. 

“(The QLINE) just could have been so much more,” Bradley says. “The problem is…it doesn’t work with a larger, wider (public transportation) network.” 

Click on the audio player above for the full conversation. 



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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.