Detroit Transportation Corporation Detroit People Mover

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Detroit People Mover new logo-a.png

Headquarters 535 Griswold Street,
Detroit, MI 48226
Area served Detroit, MI
Founded October 4, 1985
Fleet size 10 railcars

The Detroit People Mover is a one-way, one-track elevated, light-rail, rapid transit loop that circulates around downtown Detroit, Michigan, United States, originally intended to be incorporated into a regional rapid transit system. It is operated by the Detroit Transportation Corporation, a city of Detroit agency that is completely separate from the Detroit Department of Transportation. It has 13 stations, is 2.9 miles long and was opened in 1987 (though an opening date of 1991 was mentioned on the city of Detroit website in the early 2000's, this was actually incorrect).


[1] [2]

Planning and construction

A typical People Mover consist.

In the mid-1970's, the Southeastern Michigan Transportation Authority began planning a rapid transit system for metropolitan Detroit, which was to include a Woodward Avenue subway line, which would be underground from downtown north to McNichols Road and elevated from McNichols northward to Pontiac that would terminate in an elevated downtown loop. During this time, Ontario crown corporation Urban Transportation Development Corporation was working on a light rapid transit project dubbed the Intermediate Capacity Transit System, which was designed to be lighter, smaller and cheaper than a conventional subway yet had the ability to run more frequently and have higher capacities than a streetcar. On August 5, 1981, SEMTA signed a contract with UTDC to use the ICTS on the Woodward subway.

Construction on the elevated downtown loop, which would become the People Mover, began in 1983, but by then, several destinations the system was intended to serve had vanished. Work never began on the subway portion along Woodward, however. As a channel for federal grants, SEMTA was to oversee construction of the line, which was estimated to cost $137 million. The project, however, was plagued by numerous mismanagement problems and mishaps and nearly $66 million in massive cost overruns were projected, so much to the point that the federal government threatened to cease all funding for the rest of the project. In March 1985, with the project still incomplete, SEMTA agreed with then-mayor Coleman A. Young to transfer final completion and operation of the project over to the city of Detroit. This transaction was completed on October 4, 1985. Thus, the Detroit Transportation Corporation was formed to oversee the operation of the People Mover.

The People Mover was ultimately opened to the public on July 31, 1987, becoming the last of the three ICTS systems that went into operation (and the only one in the United States); after the SkyTrain in Vancouver opened in 1983 with a short section of track and one station and then commenced full operations in December 1985; and the Scarborough RT in Toronto, which also opened in 1985. Free rides on the system were offered to the public during the first eight days of service, with a $0.50 fare going into effect on August 8.

Since 1987

Originally operating counter-clockwise around the downtown area, following an August 2008 shutdown for construction work, the People Mover permanently switched to clockwise running, although the system can operate in both directions with the use of a passing track located between the Times Square and Michigan Avenue stations. This had been most notably the case twice-first in late 1998 and early 1999 after a portion of the track along Farmer Street was severely damaged during the implosion of the former Hudson's department store building on October 24, 1998; then again between 2002 and 2004 as the Renaissance Center station was closed for massive reconstruction. On November 7, 2011, the fare was raised to $0.75. On January 7, 2014, the entire loop was shut down due to extremely low temperatures. The first recorded derailment occurred on January 22, 2015 at Times Square.

Return to counter-clockwise operation

On December 23 and 26, 2019, the People Mover temporarily reverted back to it's pre-2008 counter-clockwise operation as a test. After this test was successful, additional counter-clockwise tests will be conducted on each weekend in February 2020, with the exception of the weekend of February 22-23 during the Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day Convention. Effective March 1, 2020, the People Mover permanently reverted back to counter-clockwise operation.


Typical interior layout of 01-12.
Fleet number(s) Thumbnail Year Manufacturer Model Notes
01-12 Detroit Transportation Corporation 06-a.jpg 1986 UTDC ICTS MK I
  • All feature full exterior advertisement wraps.
  • Operates in two-car sets.


The current map of the People Mover.


  1. Motor Coach Age October-December 2003 edition
  2. People Mover 25 Years-Old Today! - DSR-2-DOT Yahoo Group (broken link)

External links

Detroit People Mover new logo-a.png
Fleet 01-12
Stations Times Square, Michigan Avenue, Fort/Cass, Huntington Place, West Riverfront, Financial District, Millender Center, Renaissance Center, Bricktown, Greektown, Cadillac Center, Broadway, Grand Circus Park
Southeast Michigan and Far Southwest Ontario Agencies
Ann Arbor
Port Huron
Detroit bus
Detroit People Mover
Detroit M-1 Rail
Detroit M-1 Rail
Detroit suburbs