Opinions & Views – Daily Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com What To Know And Where To Go In Metro Detroit Mon, 20 Nov 2017 22:24:43 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.3 WATCH: Eminem Performs New Track As Well As “Stan” & “Love The Way You Lie” In Medley http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/19/watch-eminem-performs-new-track-well-stan-love-way-lie-medley/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/19/watch-eminem-performs-new-track-well-stan-love-way-lie-medley/#respond Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:39:07 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39680 Eminem’s new track “Walk on Water” was featured on last night’s Saturday Night Live in a three-part medley performance with Skylar Grey. If you didn’t know, she’s collaborated with Em before as the writer of “Love The Way You Lie” back in 2010.

After the new track that’s powerful but in a different style that fans got into when he first broke out on the scene, he went into short snippets of two classics everyone who has been following the him for awhile.

“Walk On Water” is reminiscent of a raw style that deep fans would know about but hasn’t hit the mainstream as it deals with difficult subjects and can be abrupt in delivery.

Eminem stands for something in a world where many stand for nothing or have instant outrage. He is making a strong statement again and again with his music. His connection to his feelings through decades of tough experiences is legitimate and real.

It’s also exactly what makes his detractors even more uncomfortable. Eminem’s powerful voice is forged through adversity.

Any change in sound from an artist will bring criticism. Listeners are fickle and usually want more of whatever album they fell in love with.

Artists with staying power have evolving sounds and take risks. There’s a snapshot in the mind of the public of a guy in his 20s making people laugh with absurd lyrics, but now he’s 45 and has been active for more than two decades. Time shapes people’s perspectives, and Eminem is no different.

There’s still no word as to when his next album, “Revival” will come out, despite various teases on social media and through media advertising.

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For Detroit City Clerk, Garlin Gilchrist Is The Clear Choice http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/02/detroit-city-clerk-garlin-gilchrist-clear-choice/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/02/detroit-city-clerk-garlin-gilchrist-clear-choice/#respond Thu, 02 Nov 2017 19:22:40 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39331 The city clerk race has become interesting this year. It’s usually a sleeper with candidates nobody really cares about.

But between issues around the last general election and a dynamic figure appearing on the stage, it’s been something to watch and research.

Gilchrist II may have been an unknown figure to most media, but he was known to us. Before he was running for anything (or we knew he was running for anything), he stopped by our Daily Detroit Happy Hour Podcast to talk about Detroit technology.

When he announced he was running for City Clerk, we were initially skeptical. This is a town that historically has gone for name recognition above almost all else.

After he defeated Heaster Wheeler, a long-time operator in the Detroit scene with more name recognition in the primary, Gilchrist II deserved a closer look — especially after what happened in the last general election.

On a personal level, two of our Detroit resident team members had bad voting experiences.

In the case of one, the poll workers clearly weren’t trained. The line was long while they got their stuff together, and the mechanical issues were so bad the vote was dropped in another box.

Sure, the mechanical issues could have been explained away with new gear. But the poll workers didn’t know how to deal with it.

They just stared at it like it was some sort of magic box. This doesn’t build trust, and then were clearly “well, maybe we’ll do this…” which is problem solving — but they should immediately know what to do if there’s a problem.

Beyond that, the most recent presidential election had issues with the ballot boxes not being able to recounted. Poll workers got the number of people who voted wrong. 60 percent of precincts could not be recounted due to this human error and two thirds had more votes than voters.

It was not fraud, but it was a sign of incompetence and poor training. And that isn’t the equipment. That’s the process. We believe the current City Clerk, Janice Winfrey, owns the responsibility for that poor process.

Not to mention, Detroit continues to be slow in reporting election results. Winfrey has been in the office since 2005.

We also despise the long-standing practice of using city dollars to pay for informational billboards to plaster “So and so, City Clerk” (or any office, for that matter) all over town.

We hope Garlin Gilchrist II, who has made this somewhat of an issue in the campaign, steps up and doesn’t do this himself. Also, that the practice is ended across all offices for billboards paid for by taxpayers.

Admittedly, Gilchrist II is on the younger side at 34 when seeking this office. But his technical experience with the Obama campaign, as National Campaign Director for MoveOn.org, and Director of Technology for the City of Detroit, show that he actually understands what’s going on.

Garlin Gilchrist II has the potential of being the kind of leader that embodies the future of Detroit that we want to see. Our city, standing tall.

And so we believe Garlin Gilchrist II is the best choice for Detroit City Clerk.

Although we have an opinion, we encourage you to do your own research. Here are some resources:

Debate on WDIV: https://www.clickondetroit.com/flashpoint/-detroit-city-clerk-candidates-janice-winfrey-and-garlin-gilchrist-debate

Janice Winfrey Campaign Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janicewinfreycityclerk/

Janice Winfrey Campaign Website: http://janice4thewin.com/

Janice Winfrey Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/Janice_Winfrey

Garlin Gilchrist II Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gilchristforcityclerk/

Garlin Gilchrist II Campaign Website: https://www.gilchristforcityclerk.com/

Garlin Gilchrist II Ballotpedia: https://ballotpedia.org/Garlin_Gilchrist_II

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OPINION: Banning Billboards In Downtown Detroit Is Ridiculous And The Law Should Change http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/01/opinion-banning-billboards-downtown-detroit/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/11/01/opinion-banning-billboards-downtown-detroit/#respond Wed, 01 Nov 2017 20:17:50 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=39322 Active, vibrant cities the world over have billboards and advertisements. But in Detroit, almost all the ones you’ve seen pop up over the last few years? Turns out they’re illegal, according to city code.

And that’s especially ridiculous in Detroit’s core business district.

If you didn’t know, there’s a prohibition in the city of Detroit against large advertising signs, billboards and painted wall graphics basically anywhere from Grand Boulevard to the Detroit River.

Opponents of these big ads talk about them being “a big money business” that “somebody should stop.” In this case, that’s a disturbing point of view.

The signs can bring in revenue, according to folks we talked to, between $5,000 and $11,000 per month, similar to what has been reported elsewhere. That can be a significant source of revenue for building owners, many of remember when nobody wanted to be part of anything Detroit.

Rules like this show that although the city of Detroit has become more business-friendly, it still has a long way to go before resembling a normal environment.

What’s the harm in a giant Andre Drummond being visible on what is otherwise a blank wall? Or a Comcast ad that helps support the work of the Detroit Opera House on a wall that would otherwise be empty?

It’s still not easy to make it financially in Detroit, especially for smaller players.

Not to mention, in the last couple of decades we’ve had a demolition derby where we hit the destruct button on buildings that represent a century’s worth of history. It’s part of why we have a bunch of blank walls that used to be concealed by other buildings.

And now the city government is going to make sure we and our visitors stare at those failures, day after day.

We should put in common sense provisions like a license fee and approval process to make sure guidelines of decency and taste are met. No one is arguing it should be the wild west.

But tasteful signs add to the vibe that this is a bustling downtown and help fill out the streetscape. They help keep the economic engine humming.

The city is supposed to begin enforcing the ban at the end of this year. The city council and the mayor should do fast-track reforms before that happens.

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For Day To Day Usage, MoGo Bike Share Beats The QLINE Hands Down http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/19/day-day-usage-mogo-bike-share-beats-qline-hands/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/19/day-day-usage-mogo-bike-share-beats-qline-hands/#respond Tue, 19 Sep 2017 20:06:47 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38478 When it comes to practicality, the QLINE streetcar has been a disappointment.

Our team is pretty bike- and walk- friendly, and will take the bus if the timing makes sense.

We have contributors who live near the QLINE and the MoGo stations, and others who live near bus lines and use them (in the suburbs, too).

When both opened earlier this year, we had multiple debates over which service was going to come out on top. It was evenly split between bike share lovers and believers in the power of the streetcar.

It isn’t even close.

It turns out the MoGo is, from a practical perspective, what someone around here ends up using almost every time, almost every day.

At first the MoGo might seem steep at $8 a day. But here’s the pro tip. If you use it more than one day in a 30-day period, grab that monthly pass for $18 that gives you unlimited rides. That changes your whole relationship with the service, even if you drive downtown for work. You won’t need to wait for the card to come in the mail, either. Just use the Transit app and sign in.

How does it change things? Well, that meeting in Grand Circus Park? Grab a MoGo and be there in a minute or two. Dinner in Greektown? Easy. Heading to food trucks at Spirit of Detroit Park from Bottom Line Coffeeshop? A cinch. Business drinks in Corktown? Yep.

The QLINE? People from out of town always want to use it because everyone wants to see it. But if you need to get to work and do things? Let’s be real. Even if you live right on the line, in the morning one, maybe two 53 Woodward DDOT buses are going to pass in the time one QLINE comes through.

Or, just bike it.

In nice weather on a personal bike or hopping on the MoGo, if there’s any traffic, you’re going to beat the QLINE hands down and get a little exercise.

Not to mention, when hopping around greater downtown for press conferences, meetings, or whatever else, the MoGo will get you there in no time and you’re never going to have to worry about where to park your bike or if it’s going to be stolen. Not to mention, it’s easy to get from the Central Business District to the Podcast Detroit studio at 21st Street and Vernor for our shows on MoGo. There’s a station on the same block.

We’ve counted up 12 meetings that we MoGo’d to in the last week or so.

The streetcar, when you do take it and it’s not a sportsball game, looks much emptier than when they were offering free rides. It’s going to be very interesting to see what their ridership is now.

The QLINE for sure is a “catalyst” for development. Developers who don’t live here find rails much more believable than a flexible bus line or Bus Rapid Transit. From a grander vision thing, in theory, we see that argument. And streetcars — especially if they reach farther or go faster — can be an important part of a transportation mix.

But actually living and doing things here, and having an interaction with the city that’s more than once in awhile for a special event, it’s a different question. The MoGo bike share is the clear choice.

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Michigan Cracking Down On Marijuana Dispensaries, All Must Close By Dec. 15 http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/12/michigan-cracking-marijuana-dispensaries-must-close-dec-15/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/12/michigan-cracking-marijuana-dispensaries-must-close-dec-15/#respond Tue, 12 Sep 2017 20:34:13 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38311 It’s going to be a lot harder to get ahold of medical marijuana in Michigan soon.

According to multiple reports, the state of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs is giving medical marijuana dispensaries and other businesses until December 15 to shut down.

If they don’t, they risk not being able to get a license under a new regulatory system they’re rolling out or be forcibly shut down by law enforcement. Some areas, like Oakland County, are already doing shutdowns.

New applications will not be accepted until December 15, so the practical result is that there will be a period where medical marijuana will be basically unavailable in the state.

Probable outcome: There most likely will be a lot fewer dispensaries in the state after a re-licensure process that has strong political overtones.

But… Didn’t we pass a ballot initiative, overwhelmingly?: Yeah, and elected officials don’t even have to act like they care.

If you look at polls and by the margin the 2008 ballot proposal passed (63%-37%), Michiganders wanted medical marijuana access. Recreational legalization is now favored by 57% of Michiganders in the last public poll from this year we found.

Let’s zoom out beyond the marijuana issue to explain (and, admittedly, go down a rathole).

Members of this board are selected, in part, by the Speaker of the State House and the Senate Majority Leader (also, the governor).

Through gerrymandering, in the legislature, local election outcomes are assured after the primary. Gerrymandering is a process that happens every 10 years where legislative districts are redrawn by the party in power.

Technology and politics have merged in various ways, and this is just one. Political leaders have carved out individual blocks and stack the deck so hard that the state House or Senate district is almost unflippable. On a state level Michigan voters have been stealthily silenced.

The lines of districts have been drawn to be ever in the controlling party’s favor (Republicans).

The officials on these boards are selected by elected officials, and since the current controlling party in the legislature has zero fear of being voted out of office, no matter how unpopular the program is, they’re going to do what they want.

It begs the question — and this is regardless of the party in power — if an elected leader has no real fear of being removed except by his own party, is it still a democracy?

In Michigan state politics, that’s a real question.

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Amazon Should Be A Wake-up Call To Metro Detroit To Think Bigger http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/08/amazon-wake-call-metro-detroit-think-bigger/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/09/08/amazon-wake-call-metro-detroit-think-bigger/#respond Fri, 08 Sep 2017 19:31:02 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38247 All the Mayor’s horses and all of Dan Gilbert’s men are looking to put together a deal together with Amazon.

After all, the prospect of 50,000 jobs — with well-paying salaries — and a $5 billion total investment has the entire nation talking about where the online retail Goliath will build its second headquarters.

Beyond the breathless headlines that will get shared ad nauseum on Facebook, we should take this as an opportunity to look at our region in the mirror and ask ourselves how we could compete with the rest of the nation — for talent, for investment, and for the good of our own residents.

Detroit has some great advantages. We have a sleek, modern airport. It seems like everywhere is close to an interstate freeway, and we have plenty of properties that could, in theory — and if rehabbed — house this project. Think the old Packard Plant or the Fisher Body factory, each with more than 3 million square feet. We’ve also got vacant real estate in spades.

Taking over an iconic property in an historic American city like ours would represent the kind of strong statement that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos lives for. Remember, this is the guy who’s invested heavily in The Washington Post — a newspaper, for cryin’ out loud. A guy who wants to one day deliver your purchases via drone. Going someplace obvious like Silicon Valley or New York feels way too pedestrian to be a real possibility.

Even pundits like Richard Florida are saying that Detroit’s a sleeper pick.

But there are some major areas where we come up short. We’re no closer than we were a couple years ago to having a real mass transit system. That’s a big one: One of the top requirements for the RFP was access to subways and/or light rail. Diversity was also mentioned; we’re among the least diverse regions in the nation.

This chart from CNBC puts Detroit almost dead last among cities that could contend. The only category out of the four they measured we even place in the top 20? Our airport access. Though truth be told, the fact they gave no consideration to real estate seems like a glaring omission; think it’d be easy to squeeze 8 million square feet out of New York City?

The chart makes it clear: Our region doesn’t rank in the top 20 in North America for job growth, labor force education, mass transit or university culture.

While the media can’t write enough about Detroit’s comeback — and there has been some important progress — the reality is we need to think bigger instead of focusing on scraps around the edges if more Detroiters are to find work and new opportunities.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try for Amazon, especially if it’s the right deal. But we shouldn’t follow Wisconsin’s example in landing Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn by giving away the farm in tax and other incentives.

We need to look at this as an opportunity to think bigger than we ever have before. We’re very good at using tax incentives and other lures to pull companies or major-league sports franchises from the suburbs to the city or vice versa.

But what we should be focusing on is overall growth.

There’s amazing, untapped potential in Detroiters on either side of 8 Mile to help us become the engine of the Midwestern economy, but our divisive culture and some of our leadership locks that potential in place with provincialism, short-term thinking and policies that fall laughably short of what leaders are doing in other, more economically robust regions.

The reality is if Detroit lands Amazon, or any company that isn’t simply transplanting itself from one Detroit-area location to another, most of the jobs even with programs to get Detroit residents skilled up will probably fall to suburbanites who will take that money back to their comparatively affluent tax bases across 8 Mile.

This could be a watershed moment in our region’s history.

We will either begin a true, inclusive rebound, or we’ll look back in 10 years and realize that we have faded into irrelevance, having missed what could be our greatest chance to regain our former glory as the creator of the middle class and opportunity for all.

Let’s use Amazon — whether or not we get it — as a rallying point, and move together as a region into the future.

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10 Menu Suggestions For Kid Rock’s New Detroit Restaurant http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/08/29/10-menu-suggestions-kid-rocks-new-detroit-restaurant/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/08/29/10-menu-suggestions-kid-rocks-new-detroit-restaurant/#respond Tue, 29 Aug 2017 22:33:50 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=38101 He might or might not be running for U.S. Senate. But Kid Rock is for sure opening a restaurant at the new Little Caesars Arena, “Kid Rock’s Made In Detroit.”

The Detroit Free Press reports that the 5,800 square foot restaurant is going to have a variety of “southern” and “Detroit-inspired” dishes. The menu isn’t out yet, but we have thoughts.

And although one can always appreciate the hometown pride, sometimes things just deserve to be skewered with humor.

This is Detroit, after all. If you can’t take a joke, we’re not sure you belong here.

So here are 10 menu suggestions for the new Kid Rock restaurant.

1. Trump Tots

For his favorite president, they’re light and fluffy due to their being filled with hot air.

2. Kracker Cakes

To honor Uncle Kracker, of course.

3. Nugent Nuggets

Chicken nuggets with a little bit of anger in every bite.

4. “Cowboy” Burger

Cooked exclusively on his 100% American grill, this burger is 98% lean beef in honor of the song “Cowboy” and its 1998 release date.

5. Hater Taters

Kid Rock isn’t about the haters, so he’d make a statement with this dish of spicy potatoes. Bonus: Thanks to a reader suggestion, they’d be served next to Bawitda-brats.

6. All Summer Lager

Their signature beer for summertime, to compliment his “American Badass” line of brews.

7. Putin-e

A spin on the French Canadian dish Poutine that’s taken the city by storm the last couple years. This is cheese fries (orange colored), smothered in Russian dressing along with some secret ingredients that are only available after an investigation.

8. BawitdaBBQ

Much like the song lyrics, we can’t quite understand what’s exactly in it or why people like it. But it’ll be be one of the most popular dishes on the menu.

9. Only God Knows Why You Ordered This

The name of the deep-fried appetizer sampler platter, of course.

10. Bahn Free 

A dish inspired by the south, Kid Rock’s song “Born Free,” and has a Vietnamese twist as it utilizes Bahn Mi.

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If New MLS Team Steals The Soul Of Detroit Soccer, They Shouldn’t Get A Dime Of Taxpayer Money http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/07/11/new-mls-team-steals-soul-detroit-soccer-shouldnt-get-dime-taxpayer-money/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/07/11/new-mls-team-steals-soul-detroit-soccer-shouldnt-get-dime-taxpayer-money/#respond Tue, 11 Jul 2017 16:18:42 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=37314 The fight over the soul of Detroit soccer — or football, depending on your perspective — is heating up. It’s moved to similarities in naming.

It’s clear that Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores is just fine with filing for federal trademark protection of a name that’s super similar to the locally-owned, crowdfunded Detroit City Football Club.

They’re going for the “Detroit City Soccer Club.” DCFC vs. DCSC. Here’s the trademark filing:

In Crain’s, they say their proposed MLS team (which is nowhere near a sure deal) doesn’t have an official name yet. But when people start filing applications, it should be assumed that they very well could use the protection.

Sure, Tom Gores’ Palace Sports and Entertainment (PS&E) has legions of lawyers and vaults of money at their disposal. And money tends to win arguments in courts.

But, if PS&E does continue on this path and uses their “optionality for the future,” all taxpayer funding and support for a new stadium for their prospective MLS team should be denied.


In theory, taxpayer incentives are supposed to support economic development and expansion. To provide things that weren’t already there. In those cases, we’re generally supportive. We’ve spent plenty of time praising the development efforts happening as of late.

However, in attempting to steal the Detroit City FC name — and we’re not lawyers but let’s call a spade a spade and that’s what it looks like from the outside — it feels like PS&E is clearly attempting to squash and then draft on the success of an already existing local business that has thousands of fans, merchandise, and more importantly, a community.

DCFC, it should be noted, didn’t go hat-in-hand for taxpayer dollars to fund the renovation of Keyworth Stadium in Hamtramck. DCFC’s community raised more than $700,000 through a crowdfunded investment campaign.

If a bunch of passionate Detroiters can band together to pay for fixing up their stadium, a pair of billionaires can surely pay for theirs. Especially if they’re going to piggyback on someone else’s brand that they built.

Wasn’t Detroit’s comeback supposed to be led by small projects and the entrepreneurial spirit? Detroiters pulling themselves up? And what message does it send when something that is successful is then targeted for destruction through brand appropriation by the well-heeled powers that be?

Look, PS&E is a huge operation. They very well could win. Legally, they could have an argument. We’d love to have some lawyers chime in. We’re not lawyers.

But this situation just doesn’t feel right. And we, the people, should control where our tax money goes. If this continues, local governmental leaders should make clear that the MLS stadium project will not get a single dime of taxpayer money of any kind.

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In Recent Reports Of Possible Major League Soccer Expansion, No Mention Of Detroit http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/07/10/recent-reports-possible-major-league-soccer-expansion-no-mention-detroit/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/07/10/recent-reports-possible-major-league-soccer-expansion-no-mention-detroit/#respond Mon, 10 Jul 2017 20:16:01 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=37292 Although here in Detroit there are the twin stories of should Wayne County trade with billionaires Dan Gilbert and Tom Gores for the incomplete jail site downtown, as well as the recent heckles among some passionate fans that were raised by Palace Sports & Entertainment purchasing web addresses like “DetCitySoccerClub.com,” just one word away in name from the locally popular “Detroit City Football Club,” it’s important to remember that Detroit hasn’t actually been awarded a Major League Soccer team yet.

Although you should never count a pair of billionaires out with a track record of making things happen, when you peer outside of the Detroit media bubble it’s clearly not a done deal and not having a firm stadium plan looks to be part of the reason.

A recent report on NBC Sports website (that links to an interview in the Tennessean) highlights raised chances for Nashville, Tennessee after hosting a 2017 Gold Cup match that had a crowd of more than 47,000 people. Notably, in the top cities in the running, there was no mention of the Motor City.

The current plans are that two MLS expansion teams will be announced by the end of this year, and that the league would eventually have 28 teams. That’s four expansion slots.

Per an interview with MLS commissioner Don Garber in The Tennessean, in regard to a question of why MLS is not approving bids in NFL stadiums:

What’s most important is that the (team) owner own and control the venue. So in Atlanta, for example, we’ll be playing in Mercedes Benz Stadium because Arthur Blank owns and controls the venue. That provides us with the opportunity to schedule, manage operations and not be in conflict with the primary tenant. The ownership group for the Titans are not part of the ownership group interested in Major League Soccer from an investment perspective. Which is fine. It just means that we don’t want to be a tenant in their stadium.

In response to the point-blank question, “To get approved in December, I assume Ingram (referring to the businessman, John Ingram, who is leading the Nashville bid for an MLS team) and his group will need to have stadium plans solidified before then?”

Garber said “Yes.”

From that statement, it seems as if a city has no solid stadium plan, then there will be no MLS team.

In the NBC report, the top cities other than now Nashville in the running out of 12 possible are Phoenix, Arizona; Tampa/St. Petersburg, Florida; Cincinnati, Ohio; Sacramento, California and San Antonio, Texas.

Detroit wasn’t mentioned once. This raises a few questions.

What if Wayne County says yes to the jail land swap deal, but Detroit doesn’t actually get an MLS team? A lot of people online don’t seem to want to see the jail get built downtown, but it’s very fair to ask what is the contingency plan? There hasn’t been an alternate rendering released publicly.

And when you set down the rose-colored pro-Detroit glasses, how solid is the Gilbert/Gores MLS bid without a stadium in hand? And what of the local team, DCFC – who just made their league playoffs – and will their fan base (that we heard was poised to set an attendance record before the rain out on Saturday in Hamtramck) follow to the new team?

There are a lot of “ifs” to be answered for the end of play on this match.

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QLINE, I Love You But We Need To Talk http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/18/qline-love-need-talk/ http://www.dailydetroit.com/2017/06/18/qline-love-need-talk/#respond Mon, 19 Jun 2017 02:11:08 +0000 http://www.dailydetroit.com/?p=36724 At first, you hear the warm voice of Carmen Harlan.

“Grand Circus Park, brought to you by Chevrolet” the recorded message assures the passengers.

Next, you hear some weird, garbled digital voice finishing the sentence, telling you about the attractions at that stop.

That contrast is exactly the QLINE today.

We wanted to step back, let some kinks work out, and then add something. Optimistically, one could think hey, it’ll take some time to iron things out.

We’re now a month in, and the ironing out doesn’t feel like it’s happening. And we need to talk about it. Especially because people ARE using the thing, and that’s great. It’s exciting to see the streetcars go down Woodward, and the sound of their little electronic horn makes one feel like yes, you’re in a big city.

But it also means there is more responsibility to get it right.

After all, regional leaders hold up the QLINE as an example of what could be done when organizations of different kinds cooperate, and what could happen under a greater Regional Transit Authority. When we were at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the CEO of M1 Rail Matt Cullen said in an interview with us he’d like to see more streetcars up various streets like Gratiot, as well as Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) into the neighborhoods and suburbs.

That’s big vision. The current line only goes 3.3 miles – but if well executed, the QLINE could be the example of “dressing for the job you want, not the job you have.”

If it turns into a well-oiled machine, it could definitely turn heads that yes, we can step up our transit game.

But weeks later from its opening, as regular users of the system, it still has some key issues that need to be addressed.

In no particular order:

The estimated wait times are way off

The streetcar showed up about 20 minutes after this picture was taken.

The “estimated” times are a flat out joke. They’re rarely correct. The best guess you have is to watch the little dots with the blue tags for where the next train is, because those minute estimations seem to be never right.

Beyond that, real transit systems don’t have a congratulatory Twitter as the newsfeed. They have service updates. They share if there are slowdowns. Here’s an example of a grown up system’s Twitter account, the San Francisco BART.

It’s not that you can’t have congratulatory notices and fun articles interspersed in the feed. It’s that Twitter is a great way to add transparency to the service. There are literally no service announcements in the feed, when today we can tell you trains ran more than 30 minutes apart.

This isn’t limited to the QLINE. Often in Detroit, it seems like organizations are constantly worried about telling folks what’s going on. But that’s all people want. We get it. Streetcars break down. Accidents happen. Just tell us about it. It becomes a bigger deal when you don’t share information, and then other people end up having to tell your story.

Signal priority

Note the little streetcar traffic light.

After a few weeks of service, it’s clear that it’s needed and soon. It’s annoying to leave a station and then stopping again ten feet down the road for a red light. Or you’re going along nicely and stopped in the middle of Woodward with no traffic around you. We were told that it would be easier to make happen with a Regional Transit Authority, but y’all can’t wait on this. You could shave a few minutes each way with it.

Scheduled times

We’ve heard this a lot from people who are trying to use this for work on the platforms. The “20 minute interval” thing isn’t working right now, and if there’s a DDOT bus in sight, the key trick if you need to be somewhere on time is grab it at the closest stop. As a regular bus rider, it will get you there faster, guaranteed. Schedules help plan trips.

What stop am I at?

This is not Congress Street. This is the DIA.

This could be seen as minor, but they can’t seem to get the stops right for the signage in the streetcar. This isn’t a big deal for a seasoned local, but if someone is unfamiliar this is a bad user experience. The city DDOT buses seem to figure it out through GPS and they not only run different lines, they aren’t on a fixed track.

Is six streetcars enough?

During peak demand times, it feels like the system is straining under the weight. It’s a great problem to have. If it continues, it might be time to get more streetcars.

The stations are poorly designed from a practical perspective

They’re pretty, but it’s like being in a glass oven. I sometimes look out the glass and wonder if this is the view my Hot Pocket would have looking out of the microwave.

At most stops there is little shade in and the recent heat makes it miserable to sit there sweltering on a concrete step. They could have done better, and being hot just makes you madder at that incorrect digital sign.

Sure, some of this is on us

A small part of this is we do need to be a bit better about transit etiquette.

Don’t stand in the doorway aisle when someone’s trying to walk their bike off. When the train arrives, get on or get off quickly. When the train starts filling up, if you’re able bodied and your stop isn’t for a few stations, hop up the couple stairs to the front or back. There have been plenty of times the head-in-armpit situation could be alleviated by just spreading out a bit.

Yes, this is tough love for the QLINE. It’s also true that complaining about mass transit service is a tradition in major cities the world over, but in a way it’s a good sign. It’s a sign people care.

Hopefully, the QLINE becomes all it could be and more. It’s one of the most exciting developments in Detroit in decades. Stepping onto it, you can sometimes feel the possibility of Detroit’s future. Let’s push it to be the best it can be.

UPDATE, 6/22: The QLINE announced changes coming this summer, as well as free rides until Labor Day. More here.

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