Riding on the Woodward Line in 2016

Mass transit was so simple during the years I lived in New York City. There were great options – express buses, subways, even cars, if you liked traffic jams.   It was less simple in Los Angeles when I moved there in 1989 with my late husband, Tim Robinson.   You had to love traffic jams, before there weren’t  any real options for most commuters. The Los Angeles government was finally committing to a network of metro rail lines that would eventually include both subways and elevated trains and would connect the downtown with Long Beach, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena and other communities  Yet the public was skeptical it would ever happen.  When I started graduate school at USC Annenberg, I quickly got a study assignment to work with the LA transportation department and write a research paper about the value of such a mass transit line.  And yes, key parts of it were eventually finished to ease the clogged freeways.  A small step compared to New York’s extensive subway system, but a  good start.

Now that I’ve just recently returned to my roots in the Detroit metropolitan area (again from New York), the Free Press recently reported that crucial state funding has come through for a proposed Woodward Avenue streetcar line that would be completed by late 2016, a vital mass transit link between the booming downtown business district and the city’s New Center area, the cultural hub, three miles away.  Now that I’m  driving regularly to the New Center area,  I’ve learned how inadequate mass transportation is in the Motor City and the value of such a new line.

According to the Detroit Free Press, “…Backers of M-1 Rail predict that the three-mile line along Woodward will prove so popular that additional lines known as bus rapid transit will be added to grow into a metropolitan-wide system.”  Columnist John Gallaher wrote a column earlier this year about all the health benefits that will result in cities that move to mass transit. As a former Brooklynite who misses the option to hop on the subway, all I can add is hallelujah!  You can read more at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metro_Rail_%28Los_Angeles_County%29  and at http://www.freep.com/article/20140325/BUSINESS06/303250138/M-1-Rail-Finney

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