The New York Times is giving travel love to Detroit again. And this time, it’s for a reason that you might not immediately think makes sense if you’re familiar with Detroit as the car capital of the world.
In an article today, “Car-Free Vacations For The Urban Traveler,” The NYT’s Elaine Glusac celebrated the soon to be open Q-Line down Woodward Avenue as being key for a carless traveler who prefers cities.
The streetcar, of course, is limited relative to the footprint of Detroit, and taxis or shuttles, including a service called Skoot that offers van transportation for $20 a person, are still the most common way to get downtown from the airport.
But the project has sparked a building boom as residences, restaurants and shops have moved in along the corridor. Visitors will be able to shuttle along the route for about $1.50 a ride from near the Detroit River downtown to the nearby baseball and football stadiums (professional hockey and basketball facilities are being built and are expected to open this fall). The route also passes through the cultural Midtown district, home to the Detroit Institute of Arts and other museums. Hotels along the streetcar include the recently opened Aloft Detroit at the David Whitney.
We’d add that soon there will be the Shinola Hotel, and you can’t forget the tried and true Inn on Ferry street in Midtown.
She goes on to talk about Corktown and Belle Isle, and yes, Uber or Lyft is probably the best option for the person who is only in town a few days.
There’s also a shout out to the new Detroit Bike Share coming this year.
Skoot isn’t always top of mind for people, but for $20 flat rate each way it’ll get you downtown to and from the airport and is one of the least expensive direct options considering the state of our regional transportation system.
It’s also important to note there’s a bit of futurism to this piece. The Q-Line and the bike share program are not yet open for the public.
Activity at Cobo convention center and other indicators around tourism are up. Hotel occupancy, as of fall of last year, is at 70% up from just over 50% in 2010.
What the Times piece does highlight is something that isn’t often brought up in the conversation around Detroit’s new streetcar, and that is it’s impact on tourism. It’ll be interesting to see how the new streetcar influences the tourist trade in Detroit.