Meet Tamika Simmons
Tamika Simmons has been driving Detroit’s streetcar from the very beginning. After 14 years driving motor coaches across the country, and spending too much time on the road, she jumped at the chance to use her driving skills close to home.
“It’s an interesting job,” Simmons said. “Woodward has a story every day. You see the people who sit at the different stops – they look for you and wave at you.”
Simmons works the early shift, stepping behind the wheel at 5 a.m.
“It’s kind of fun sometimes,” she said. “You’re on a track, you can’t really deviate from where you’re going, but our track flows with traffic, so you’ve got to work with cars on the road. There’s always cars that are trying to turn right in front of you.”
She likens driving a streetcar to driving a big computer.
“It’s not like you have a steering wheel and a brake pedal, everything is in your hands,” Simmons described.
Every season brings with it a learning curve. Rain can be a complicating factor – any time the tracks get wet, there’s more chance for slippage. Fortunately, the QLINE’s streetcars are equipped with two different braking systems.
“It keeps my driving skills fine-tuned,” she noted.
While Tamika hopes to continue driving the QLINE for a long time to come, she also wants to one day achieve the trifecta of planes, trains and automobiles.
“I’m trying to see if I can get a pilot’s license,” she said with a laugh. “I’m excited about it, I’ve just got to get my stomach together.”