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The QLINE Streetcar on Wednesday, May 3

After years of planning, construction and testing the QLINE is a real thing.

We were able to hop on the QLINE for a preview of the service, and I thought I’d share some tips and answers to questions we got during a Facebook live stream we did.

Here are our twelve tips for riding the rails up and down Woodward.

1. The QLINE streetcars differ from a bus in a number of ways

The QLINE streetcars need to travel along the rail that has been built along Woodward. They also at some intersections get a special light that allows them to get a 15 second head start on traffic.

Boarding a streetcar is also easier because there is level boarding from the station onto the car. It saves time in instances where buses “kneel” to lower their stairs to be able to pick up passengers.

It’s tougher because they may not wait like a bus might if you’re behind and running for it (and any of us who have ridden the bus every day in the past like I have to work knows that jog).

Each streetcar will have seating for 34 people, but can accommodate up to 125 people. The ride once you get going is silky smooth because you’re on rails and not hitting potholes.

2. There are multiple ways to purchase your fare

If you are paying with a credit card you can buy your tickets at all of the stations, on the QLINE app, or online.

If you are paying with cash you can buy your tickets onboard the streetcar. If you are paying with a money order or check you can buy your tickets at the Penske Tech Center.

3. When you buy a pass you can get on and off the QLINE multiple times

For 3 hours you can get a pass for $1.50, and a day pass is $3.00. Senior passes are 75 cents, kids under 44 inches and 3 are free with an adult. Monthly pass is $30 and the annual pass is $285 (which makes it $.78 a day).

4. They will check for fare skippers

The QLINE is considered a trust but verified service. Much like Amtrak, you can be asked at any time for your pass. If you don’t have it then you will be asked to get off on the next stop.

5. If you are bringing your bike there is a place for you, too

See that hook? Each streetcar is equipped with four bike racks in the middle section of the car. This is on a first come first serve, and disabled people are a priority in the center section of the bus.

6. Cameras are everywhere

There are cameras in all of the streetcars and at all of the stations. These cameras feed into the “Greater Security Lighthouse Network” that includes Wayne State Police, Wayne County Police, Central Business District, and larger companies. All of the stations also have emergency call boxes.

7. Be sure to hold on while standing

These streetcars are electric which means they have high torque. It also means that when they start, they start with a jump, not a slow ramp-up like on a bus. You really should be holding onto something or sitting down when it gets going, the start is.. startling, if you didn’t hear the bell.

8. The screens at the stations provide a lot of information

One screen will have a countdown clock that will give you the next streetcar arrival. The stations will also show the crosstown buses for both DDOT and SMART.

The second screen has information from Detroit Public TV. There is a mix of community programing information and information on the donors for the QLINE. There will also be educational videos. These videos won’t have sound but there will be subtitles.

9. There will be WiFi onboard

It wasn’t hooked up during our ride, but it will be available once service officially starts. We wrote about it here.

10. Download the QLINE Detroit App

You will be able to purchase your pass on the app. You will also be able to see when each streetcar will be arriving, which makes planning your trip easier. Here’s a link to the iTunes store.

11. Get off at a stop and walk around to explore the city

We have grown so accustomed to getting in our car to drive to different places. Having this streetcar means we can get out and explore our surroundings. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Who knows, you might find your next favorite restaurant or shop.

12. The QLINE is not a 24 hour service

So if you plan on going out to party especially on a non-game night you might need to find an alternative way home, like ride sharing.  

Get used to these hours of operation:

  • Monday through Thursday: 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
  • Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
  • Saturday 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m.
  • Sunday 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.

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