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.


[1] [2]

Planning and construction

A typical People Mover consist.

In the mid-1970s, 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 loop had 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 with twelve stations across downtown Detroit (excluding Cobo Center as construction on that complex's northern expansion was still in progress), 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.

First two decades

Cobo Center station opened in November 1988 after enough work had been completed on the complex's addition. The People Mover would temporarily shut down 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, though it would resume service in January 1999 with two bidrectional lines, each operating with one train: a Red Line from Times Square to Millender Center and a Green Line from Greektown to Cobo Center, forcing passengers wishing to travel between Times Square and Greektown to transfer midway. In August 1999, the Red and Green Lines would be cut back to Michigan and Bricktown stations respectively due to construction. Full-loop service was restored in November 1999, though Grand Circus Park and Greektown remained closed (the former due to the closure of the David Whitney Building and the latter due to the construction of the adjacent Greektown Casino).

Greektown reopened in January 2000 after the Greektown Casino was completed, and the April 2001 reopening of Grand Circus Park (following modifications to allow access directly from the sidewalk on Park Avenue) restored service to every station on the People Mover. This would only last for just over a year, as Renaissance Center closed in September 2002 due to extensive remodeling commencing on the Renaissance Center complex, forcing the People Mover to revert to bidirectional running, with a single line operating between Bricktown and Millender Center with one train per direction, utilizing a passing track located between the Times Square and Michigan stations. The People Mover resumed full-loop service once again in September 2004, with a fully reconstructed Renaissance Center station opening two months later.

Switch to clockwise operation, then return to counter-clockwise operation

Originally operating counter-clockwise around the downtown area, following an August 2008 shutdown for construction work, the People Mover switched to clockwise running. 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.

In August 2019, Cobo Center station was renamed Convention Center after TCF Bank bought the naming rights for Cobo Center itself and renamed it TCF Center. On December 23 and 26, 2019, the People Mover temporarily reverted back to its original counter-clockwise operation as a test. After this test was successful, additional counter-clockwise tests were 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, though after only three weeks, the People Mover would shut down for over two years as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The People Mover would reopen in May 2022 with service to a limited amount of stations, including Convention Center, which was renamed again to Huntington Place (along with the complex itself) following Huntington Bank's acquisition of TCF Bank the previous year, and Joe Louis Arena, which was renamed to West Riverfront to better reflect its location on the downtown Detroit riverfront and its proximity to the Riverfront Towers after Joe Louis Arena itself was closed in 2017 and demolished in 2020. Additional stations would reopen in the year ahead, with the last station, Times Square, reopening on June 26, 2023.


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
(12 units) 1982-1984 UTDC ICTS MK I Ex-TTC 30xx, purchased December 2023, most likely for parts.[3]


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)
  3. Board of Directors December 2023 meeting agenda, Detroit Transportation Corporation.

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
Ad Wraps List
Detroit Area Transit Agencies
Ann Arbor
Port Huron
Detroit bus
Detroit People Mover
Detroit M-1 Rail
Detroit M-1 Rail
Detroit suburbs
University of Michigan