Free rides and service improvements are on the horizon for Detroit’s streetcar.

That’s the word today as the QLINE has announced that riders will continue to get free fares for the remainder of the summer. Riders will be able to ride the QLINE for free until Monday, September 4.

To make the balance sheet work, the Kresge Foundation has offered to cover the fares for QLINE riders from July 1 through September 4. The foundation is the largest funder of the QLINE project.

“The QLINE holds much promise as an integral piece of a true regional transit system and we are invested in its long-term success,” said Kresge President & CEO Rip Rapson. “With dozens of summer festivals and activities up and down the Woodward Corridor, our motivation to extend free fares is to expose every city and metro resident to the QLINE. Building a sustainable ridership will enable the streetcar to continue to serve as a positive demonstration project for regional transit.”

The QLINE will also spend the next nine weeks making both operational improvements and rider experience improvements.

“M-1 RAIL will work with our operational partner Transdev North America to provide consistent service with streetcars arriving every 15 minutes on weekdays in the short term and 12 minutes long-term,” said M-1 RAIL COO Paul Childs. “We’ve outlined a series of operational improvements that will be addressed by Labor Day.”

According to the release, the improvements will include:

Station Information Kiosks

  • M-1 RAIL is working with its real-time transit information provider to improve the accuracy of predicted streetcar arrivals.

Peak / off-peak operations

  • Additional operators are currently being trained and will be deployed in the coming weeks to allow the full implementation of a four-car service during off-peak operations and a five-car operation during peak service times.

Traffic Policy and Signal Preemption

  • QLINE operational policies have been revised to limit unnecessary time in traffic along the route. In addition, M-1 RAIL continues to work with MDOT and the City of Detroit to authorize signal priority at select intersections along Woodward Avenue, including:
    • Congress Ave. (complete)
    • Campus Martius (complete)
    • Burroughs St. (in process)
    • Montcalm St. (in process)

Stop Policy

  • QLINE station stops without passengers boarding or exiting the streetcar will be bypassed. The QLINE will stop at all stations with waiting passengers. It will also stop when onboard passengers push the “stop” button aboard the streetcar, indicating their intention to exit the streetcar.

Reducing Charge Times

  • The performance of the QLINE’s battery powering system has exceeded expectations, reducing the amount of time needed for vehicle charging along the route. The QLINE will begin to operate approximately 80% off-wire, eliminating approximately three minutes of battery charge time on every roundtrip.

Transit Police Enforcement

  • New development along Woodward Ave. has continued at an aggressive pace. M-1 RAIL continues to work closely with transit police to enforce policies that keep the QLINE route free of vehicle and construction obstructions.

Many of these improvements, when completed, would address issues we brought up in our editorial about the QLINE from last week here.

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