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Private employers seek to expand People mover

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Employers push for study to expand People Mover

By Sherri Begin

6:00 am, October 9, 2006

A group of Woodward Corridor employers hopes to raise $200,000 to study a privately funded expansion of the People Mover to link the riverfront to the New Center.

The expansion would extend the People Mover tracks three miles up the corridor in both directions from its current one-way loop in the downtown area and cut time and cost off the project if it were pursued with private rather than federal transportation funding, said Marsden Burger, chairman and CEO of Cabintaxi Corp. in Detroit and the group’s convener.

The city already has one of the most advanced, fully automated, steel-wheel light-rail systems in the world, he said, so it makes sense to build on it.

“Long-term, this (expansion) wouldn’t impact just the Woodward Corridor, but all of Detroit,” Burger said.

Companies behind the effort sent a letter last week to Gov. Jennifer Granholm, Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and Wayne County Executive Robert Ficano, informing them of the effort to privately fund an initial study.

In addition to Cabintaxi, the group includes Henry Ford Health System, Trizec Real Estate Services L.L.C., the New Center Council and Metropolitan Organizing Strategy Enabling Strength. Each attended an Aug. 3 meeting hosted by Crain’s Publisher Mary Kramer to discuss the issue of transportation, which Crain’s readers identified as their top concern following the Super Bowl.

“What’s good for Detroit is good for Henry Ford,” said William Schramm, the health system’s senior vice president, strategic business development.

An expansion of the People Mover potentially would bring current and new employees and residents to Henry Ford as patients, he said. It also would enable the large numbers of students who regularly move back and forth between Henry Ford and Wayne State University’s medical school to do so more easily.

It also would “promote city growth and real estate values because it would support increased demand,” said Jerry Burgess, vice president of Trizec’s Detroit group.

Burgess, chairman of the New Center Council, said an expansion also would benefit the New Center area by bringing additional people into it, expanding the market for retailers there.

The Detroit Medical Center and Wayne State also attended the group’s initial meeting. The DMC still is considering its formal response, according to the letter sent out last week. Wayne State said it plans to send its own letter supporting the discussions on a possible expansion but will support whatever initiative Kilpatrick proposes.

The existing People Mover infrastructure would keep the cost of the expansion down, said Burger, who came to Detroit in 1980 to help build the system as past director of product application for the former UTDC USA in Washington, now part of Bombardier Inc.

Based on Detroit’s previous People Mover construction and similar projects in Vancouver, Toronto and New York City, Burger estimates the expansion would cost about $200 million. It wouldn’t require annual operating subsidies since existing infrastructure could handle additional riders and in fact, would bring in increased revenue through token sales, he said.

Among the topics yet to be discussed by the group is how the expansion would be funded. One possibility is key employers in the city purchasing tokens in advance, Schramm said.

The group’s goal is to accomplish the project with private funding, but it could include some city or state funding if either chooses to buy tokens in advance as well, Burger said.

A tax on parking spaces, as has been done in other cities, could be another form of funding, Schramm said.

http://www.crainsdetroit.com/a pps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/2006 1009/SUB/61006042/-1/toc

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Im not sure how big a deal it is but it is nice that its employers along the Woodward corridor pushing for this.

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I thought employers were already pushing for normal light rail up woodward? And didn't the Ann Arbor commuter line include light rail connecting New Center and downtown?

Connecting New Center, Wayne State, and downtown together makes sense though. especially with the train station being in New Center, and how Wayne State is building more dorms.

But yeah, it is nice. Every few months we get a news article about how businesses are trying to get some kind of mass transportation.

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I guess I'm glad they are trying to pool money for a studying, but about time they are done 'studying' an expansion, Detroit will be gone. Seriously, where have we heard this before?

Still, I'm going to try and not be so cynical. I applaud this group for taking the iniative to spark interest in a people mover expansion. Maybe, this will be the first step in something big, and the state and feds will see the interest and take this and run with it. Who knows?

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i hope it actually gets done, at least if its privately funded it wont take 25 years for it to get built.

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One thing though, is that the article says that they hope to raise 200,000 dollars, which means that they don't already have the money. If that's the case, where would they get 200 million?

I think it would be cool if the pm looked better. If it had some kind of nice looking panels covering it, or some nice patterns molded into it or something.

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One thing though, is that the article says that they hope to raise 200,000 dollars, which means that they don't already have the money. If that's the case, where would they get 200 million?

I think it would be cool if the pm looked better. If it had some kind of nice looking panels covering it, or some nice patterns molded into it or something.

I would settle for a paint job. Perhaps a Tigers theme between broadway and GCP, and other themes throughout the other areas of downtown.

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I kind of like it the way it is. The exposed concrete is clean and simple looking. I'm afraid you'd get some wild architects out there who would do something we'd regret. The grad students at my arch school did a project with some fictional redesigns for freeway overpasses on I-94. I wanted to vomit after looking at 80% of them.

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I would settle for a paint job. Perhaps a Tigers theme between broadway and GCP, and other themes throughout the other areas of downtown.

fiber optic lighting under the tracks would be cool

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fiber optic lighting under the tracks would be cool

Perhas the worlds longest LED board? I'm sure that would be a quick way to make $200 Million to build the system out to new center. Okay, now I'm just being rediculous.

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I have always thought that just extending the people mover north along Woodward into New Center would be worlds better than its current state. You could get people coming from the DIA, Detroit Historical Museum, Wayne State, and many more things in New Center, and help them get downtown to the Casino's, Stadiums, Restaurants, clubs, etc...downtown. People could park their cars in either place, yet have easy access to both areas.

It would transform the people mover from practicallly usesless to a viable option for getting from one attraction to another.

http://www.urbanplanet.org/forums/index.ph...st&p=564985

I agree with this effort ! :rolleyes:

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Skip a study, they take too long, come up with the money, come up with a effecient route, and call it day

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I agree, build the thing and worry about financing it later. LOL. No really, if doesn't work out in the end, oh well!

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^ If the PM wasnt subsidized, I bet thats how much it would cost for one person to ride.

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The Free Press did a study a few years ago that said for every 50 cent ride the city pays $3.00. But that was with ridership in the range of 1.5 million. Chances are ridership will be closer to 3 million this year.

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Hey at least there are people thinking outside the box. Good thing DeVos isn't in office yet, or we all know what his response to the letter would have been..."I'm not buying a people mover expansion!!"...

Ok, I'm kidding. ;)

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