QLINE Ridership Grows as Service Improvements are Made


DETROIT – Significant operational improvements have helped build ridership over the last month, M-1 RAIL officials announced today in a report.

“Over the past month, we have improved QLINE service, putting more streetcars on the road, reducing wait times between vehicles and integrated rider feedback into our operational enhancement plan,” said M-1 RAIL CEO Matt Cullen. “Many more people have had the opportunity to experience the QLINE for the first time and Detroiters are beginning to integrate the streetcar system into their daily travel.”

QLINE ridership has increased from an average of 4,000 trips per day the week of June 12 to an average of 6,300 the week of July 17. The system expects to average 5,000 trips daily during its first full year of revenue operations. To better meet ridership demands, M-1 RAIL has increased the number of streetcars operating during peak ridership hours. QLINE now runs five streetcars Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. – 7 p.m.

“We are well positioned to begin revenue operations in September,” said Cullen.  “Our service continues to improve and our customers are becoming more familiar with engaging with this new mode of transit.”

In mid-June, M-1 RAIL and The Kresge Foundation announced an extension of free QLINE ride service through Labor Day to ensure the system had time to refine operations before launching revenue service.

“The Kresge Foundation is pleased to see Detroiters’ enthusiastic response to the extended free ride promotion,” said Kresge President & CEO Rip Rapson. “We believe this decision will support the QLINE’s long-term success and position the streetcar as a successful demonstration project for transit in the region.”

Since the week of June 12, daily average headway (time between vehicles) has improved from over 19 minutes to an average of 16:49 Monday-Saturday. In the past month, operational improvements have reduced a roundtrip ride on the QLINE by 6 minutes.

“We’ve worked with our operational partner Transdev to implement policies that will ensure streetcars arrive at consistent 15-minute intervals during peak service,” said M-1 RAIL COO Paul Childs. “We’re pleased to see that wait times have decreased by 20% since the start of operations and 12% over the past month. We expect to see continuous improvements between now and Labor Day and beyond.”

M-1 RAIL continues working with Nextbus, its streetcar arrival technology provider to ensure accurate information is available to riders. Over the past six weeks,  greater consistency in service has resulted in incremental improvements to data accuracy. Further changes to the station kiosks are expected in advance of revenue operations.

“Improving the arrival prediction system is one of our top priorities as we prepare for revenue service,” said Paul Childs. “We appreciate the patience of our riders as we refine this technology and we expect to see a significant improvement in the data over the next six weeks.”

M-1 RAIL’s  operations enhancement plan includes adding streetcar operations staff, traffic signal optimization, a new stop policy, less time spent charging and enhanced transit police enforcement.

Hiring Additional Certified Streetcar Operators

  • At the launch of QLINE service on May 12, Transdev began with 17 certified streetcar operators.
  • Due to rider demand, Transdev now employs 21 certified operators.
  • A total of 27 certified operators are expected to be in place by the start of revenue operations in September.

Traffic Policy and Signal Priority

  • QLINE worked with MDOT and the City of Detroit to optimize traffic signal timing at the intersections of Burroughs, Montcalm and Campus Martius. At Congress, an approaching QLINE streetcar now triggers a signal change.
  • Discussions are ongoing to optimize signals at additional intersections along the QLINE route.

Stop Policy

  • QLINE no longer stops at every station unless passengers are boarding and exiting the streetcar. QLINE stops at stations with waiting passengers or when onboard passengers push the stop button aboard the streetcar.

Reducing Charge Times

  • QLINE is now operating approximately 80% off-wire due to higher than expected battery performance, eliminating unnecessary charge time on the route.

Transit Police Enforcement

  • Transit Police continue to work to keep the route free from obstruction. Since the QLINE launch on May 12, 207, transit police have issued 30 tickets and towed seven cars.