The Chicago “L” Overlaid On The City Of Detroit

The Chicago L route map overlaid on the city of Detroit. Credit: reddit user northsider1983

What would it look like if you took a platoon of helicopters and airlifted the entire Chicago L system and dropped it on Detroit? It would look like the map you see above. The map was made by a reddit user, who goes by the handle “northsider1983.”

The map gives a sense of the scale of both cities, and their very different transit options. Detroit, of course, doesn’t have a rail system. It has the People Mover, which covers all of 2.9 miles. It’s pretty arguable whether Detroit even has a functioning bus system these days (though there was a time when Detroit’s streetcar system was far more extensive than today’s L).

But Detroit’s transit dreams still have some life left in them. Businessman Dan Gilbert said again this week that he expects the new light rail line along Woodward Ave. “will be in the ground by the end of this calendar year.”

Midwest Memo: A $3 Billion Idea To Stop Asian Carp, New Plans For Navy Pier And Streetcars In Milwaukee

The $3 billion fish What’s the best way to keep invasive Asian Carp from entering the Great Lakes and terrorizing the sport fishing industry? A new report says Lake Michigan should be disconnected from the Mississippi River. The two water bodies have no natural connection, but they’ve been connected by a series of man-made canals. Problem is, undoing that work will cost at least $3 billion.

Plans for the Pier Chicago’s Navy Pier is planning an $85 million face-lift. The Chicago Tribune has a look at five ambitious plans for the pier. One official admits to the paper that all the plans would exceed the budget for the project. But he’s hoping to generate enthusiasm for the Pier – and maybe some donations.

Streetcars in Milwaukee A plan to put streetcars in downtown Milwaukee moved one step forward yesterday. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that federal regulators say the plan will have no negative environmental impact. The question of paying for the rail line is more complicated.

Homeless, not hopeless The number of homeless children in Ohio has nearly doubled since 2006. Partner station ideastream Cleveland has a look at one program trying to keep those kids in school.

A visit from the Veep Less than a week after President Obama visited Ann Arbor, Mich., Vice President Biden will be in the Mitten State for a speech in Grand Rapids on Wednesday. Partner station Michigan Radio has the details.

Midwest Memo: African-American Spending Power, Rail Aftershock, New Cleveland Flights

African-American Influence: The number of African-American households earning $75,000 or more grew by 64% between 2000 and 2009 — 12% faster than the overall population’s earning growth, a new survey by the Nielsen Co. shows, according to Crain’s Chicago Business. African-American women, particularly, are boosting their earning power. The percentage of black women who attended some college or earned a degree increased to 53%, compared with 44% for black men. Though the numbers are national, they signal a socioeconomic shift for cities with significant black populations, such as Chicago and Detroit, Crain’s said.

Detroit Light Rail Aftershock: Business leaders in Detroit are feeling the aftershock of the government’s abrupt decision this week to cancel a light rail project, the Detroit News said. The leaders say they were not consulted by the Transportation Department, which scrapped the $500 million project in favor of high-speed buses. Given the time and effort that city businesses and leaders committed to the project, they were owed a discussion before the announcement was made, the Detroit Downtown Development Partnership said in a letter released today.

New Cleveland Flights: Delta Air Lines is adding 10 new daily flights between Cleveland’s Hopkins International Airport and LaGuardia Airport in New York City. According to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer, the flights begin July 11. The first will be at 6:45 a.m. and the last at 7 p.m. The Delta service joins five flights a day by American Airlines, and 12 a day by United Airlines, which assumed Continental Airlines’ hub in Cleveland when the airlines merged last year. Delta said its creation of a LaGuardia hub is the largest single airline expansion in New York in more than 40 years.


Detroit Asks, What Are High Speed Buses? Cleveland Can Tell You All About Them

Detroiters were more than a little perplexed this week at the news the city wouldn’t be getting a long-sought light rail system. Instead, the Transportation Department has recommended a high-speed bus transit system for the Motor City, even though $25 million had already been allocated for light rail.

Cleveland bus/Jerry Masek, RTA, via The New York Sun

Fast buses? Like the one in the movie Speed? Well, not exactly.

High-speed buses run in dedicated lanes that bring to mind streetcar tracks, except much cheaper and easier to install.

They’re operating just a couple hours’ drive away from Detroit, in downtown Cleveland, one of a growing number of American cities that have installed them. There, HealthLine buses glide along Euclid Avenue and out to the famous Cleveland Clinic.

Rather than hail a bus, and pay as they enter, riders buy tickets, then hop on and hop off. The platform is the same height as the bus, making the ride easier for the elderly or disabled. The buses have their own traffic lights, which allow them to avoid snarled traffic.

Our Dan Bobkoff took a look at Cleveland’s transit system earlier this year for Marketplace. In Cleveland, the rapid bus system cost $200 million; a light rail system would have cost $800 million.

But proponents of light rail systems say they can do more for development than rapid bus systems — something that Detroit can definitely use.

“There’s a distinction between public transit as economic development — which was the great hope for light rail — and public transit as a basic service to move people from homes to jobs,” Stephen Henderson, the editorial page editor of The Detroit Free Press, wrote this week.

Would you have preferred to see light rail for Detroit? How do you feel about rapid bus transit?