30 years ago: Detroit People Mover begins operation

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Detroit People Mover construction in 1985 (WDIV).

DETROIT - As the city of Detroit marks the opening of the QLINE streetcar system Friday along Woodward Avenue, let's take a quick look back at 30 years ago when another transportation circuit opened in the city. 

That would be the Detroit People Mover, of course. The system officially opened to the public in Downtown Detroit on July 31, 1987. 

Here's some history from the Detroit Transportation Corporation

The Detroit People Mover (DPM) was built as part of an Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) – now Federal Transit Administration (FTA) – Demonstration Project.  The intent of that program was to determine (a) how well a fully automated transit system might contribute to the revitalization of Central Business Districts of major older cities, and (b) if such an automated technology could provide effective circulation/distribution service at a cost lower than conventional bus systems.

Construction of the DPM system began in the spring of 1983 under the auspices of the Southeastern Michigan Transit Authority (SEMTA) – now the Suburban Mobility Authority for Regional Transportation (SMART).   On October 3, 1985, the Detroit Transportation Corporation (DTC) was established to be the agency responsible for completion of the project construction and thereafter assumed full ownership responsibility for the DPM.   The DPM system opened to the public on July 31, 1987.

Here's a look at some WDIV file footage from the system's construction in 1985 and the opening in 1987:

Whether or not the People Mover has been a useful mode of transportation in Detroit is up for debate, though it's pretty clear it serves an extremely small percentage of the region's population and visitors on a daily basis. According to the DTC, the People Mover's ridership in 2016 was 2,165,352.

The QLINE is supposed to be the link between the People Mover's Downtown Detroit loop and the Amtrak station to the north in New Center. 

MORE: Everything you need to know about Detroit's new streetcar system: The QLINE

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