Explore the Motor City by Train with the Detroit People Mover

Detroit is known as the Motor City but why not exploring downtown by train. The Detroit People Mover has 13 stations throughout downtown and fares are cheap with 75 cents for a ride.

The whole trip around downtown takes about 18 minutes on the train.

There are multiple ways to pay for your ticket.

  • Buy a monthly ($10) or annual pass ($100) online
  • Have 75 cents in quarters and throw it directly in the slot above the gate
  • Buy a token. Vending machines are located at every station and they give change if you use bills to buy your tokens

Once on the platform of the people mover wait for the next train to arrive and hop on. The people mover can give you an overview of downtown when you are new to the city and you can plan your future walking trips accordingly. Watch the below video for a complete trip on the almost 3-mile long route.

The people mover is also an art project. Not only the cars themselves serve as advertising and artwork platform, also the stations have unique artworks placed inside them. Check out the official people mover website for a list of all the artworks inside the stations.

People Mover near GM Renaissance Center

GM Renaissance Center Station

Schedule & Network

The Detroit People Mover runs 7 days a week but not 24 hours a day.

Monday-Thursday 6:30 AM – Midnight
Friday 6:30 AM – 2 AM
Saturday 9 AM – 2 AM
Sunday Noon – Midnight

Times are subject to change during special events. Check out the Detroit people mover website for up to date information.

Transit Map (c) Detroit Transportation Corporation

Problems of the People Mover

The people mover has also some downsides. First of all, it is a single line system and only runs clockwise throughout the 13 stations. So if you need to go to a station which would be just 2 stations counterclockwise from where you are, you basically have to ride almost one time on the whole system to get to your station. This costs you more time (and money) as just walking to the station. I don’t know why they haven’t thought of this, but this is a major issue especially because it was intended to be a mass transportation project. Compared to Detroit, Miami’s Metromover has trains going in both directions and covers a larger area with multiple lines. The Detroit People Mover only has one line.

Detroit People Mover

Detroit People Mover

The train cars should have bigger windows to get better lighting inside the cars and give the riders a better view of the city. The current windows are too small. Also, add a better view out of the front or back of the train. Since it is an automated system, that shouldn’t be too big of a problem.

The Detroit People Mover (DPM) system is not part of any of the other transportation options in Detroit like the SMART bus or the QLINE streetcar system. Passholders of either one of these 3 transportation systems should be able to ride on every other system. This could be achieved with special passes for the people mover and people mover only passes. Detroit is an up and coming city and I hope to see many improvements in the near future here.

Usage

The people mover struggles with low usage. Most of the time the train cars are empty. But this is probably because of the first mentioned reason above. It only runs in one direction and why spend all the time driving in the wrong direction on the train when you can walk to your destination faster than being on the train. The downtown area of Detroit is small and the walk from the river front to the Circus Circus station, which is the northernmost station of the system, takes you only about 20 – 25 minutes.

Bottom Line

I hope Detroit will improve the people mover in many ways. Especially incorporating it with other methods of transportation and make it easier for everyone to use. Maybe an extended network and run trains on the same track back and forward by adding passing lines for the trains. We will see but overall I like the idea of such a light rail in cities. It’s a greener solution than driving your car two blocks down the street and it will take some congestion out of the city once it gets accepted.

Have you taken the Detroit People Mover before? What are your thoughts?

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