M1 LightRail Scrapped for Regional Rapid Transit Bus System. Now What?
So, as you’ve heard (Mlive, Free Press, the News), the M1 LightRail plan has been scrapped, and in its place will come a more regional rapid transit bus system. The death of M1, without a doubt, hurts the psyche of this city– yet again citizens see a plan talked about, get behind it even, watch it be promoted and invested in, and then never executed upon. It perpetuates the distrust that many Detroiters already have with organizations of all shapes and sizes in the city. That being said, there is undoubtedly some positive prospects to this. Let’s look at a few things that say maybe this isn’t all that bad.
1) High speed bus lines are doing magnificent things in Cleveland to redevelop their Uptown area. The New York Times wrote an article about the momentum this development is creating, one component of which was a focus on the high speed bus lines they have used. We discussed some components of that conversation here on the blog (check it).
2) The other clean cut success story comes from BogotÃ¡, Colombia– the country that had massive million-dollar plans for an elevated highway system and ended up scrapping that plan for a high speed bus line. I’ve spent time in BogotÃ¡, and let me tell you, the TransMilenio (the name of the line) is actually remarkably efficient, timely, easy to use and pretty slick. Buses have a dedicated lane and station, and quite frankly, it feels just like a rail line would– it just costs a heck of a lot less (an average of $13.5 million per mile while light rail average costs are $34.8 million per mile) and moves on multiple rubber wheels instead of some rail track. Check out this video by Street Films that looks in depth at Bogota’s system.
3) Gary Hustwit, the director that has produced some great documentaries like Objectified and Helvetica, most recently released Urbanized, a film looking at urban planning and the design of cities. Aside from Detroit being included in the film for urban gardening– what was one of the marvelous examples of developments he examined that could lead to the growth of cities? High speed bus lines. So, there is actually some merit to the idea.