Before coming to Detroit, I had heard a lot about the shortcomings of public transportation in the city. After reading How to Kill a City and the development of the QLine it was interesting to see the results with my own eyes when I got to Detroit. I’ve ridden the QLine a couple times, and I didn’t experience any delays or difficulties while riding it, but all the issues listed in this article are all very real problems that exist regardless of whether or not I can see them.
The QLine only services Downtown Detroit, leaving the rest of the Detroit neighborhoods at a disadvantage in terms of public transportation. Instead of developing a system of express buses, as Detroit residents wanted, the government supported the M-1 development of streetcars. However, “in total, 42 percent of the QLine’s startup costs, including building the rails and buying the streetcars, came from public and quasi-public money.” This is just another instance in which public money has been allocated to private corporations, and in this case, has been marketed for transit improvement, but has really just been a money-making business for M-1. In ten years, regardless of whether or not the QLine has lived up to what M-1 has promised, the Regional Transit Authority is “scheduled to take over the operating expenses of the streetcar.” So, a bunch of public money was dumped into this development, a private corporation did with this money as they wanted and had the power to tune out all the protests and reservations of Detroit residents or transportation officials, and after just two years of operation has falling ridership and growing operation costs.
It’s really frustrating to read and see these cycles of injustice that keep happening in Detroit. The disadvantaged populations are continuously ignored, and multi-billion corporations pour money into fruitless projects and developments, when that money could have been used to actually help the city. And every time I learn about things like this article on the QLine taught me, it makes me wonder what can we actually do about issues like these? How do you fight large corporations that have more power and influence in the city than its residents do?