I’m going to Vancouver on Thursday for a conference. I’m presenting the first chapter of my next book on neoliberalism in black politics. Vancouver has a Skytrain that traverses 33 miles through the city. It’s the longest rail of its kind in the world. Thirty years ago Detroit sought to be the first, by creating a People Mover that would extend from Detroit to Ann Arbor (over 40 miles). Although the money was there, suburban angst nixed the deal. The People Mover was built but it is barely used and travels only 3 miles around the city. I’ve probably ridden it five times in 30 years.
News comes today that the state legislature is seriously considering building a high speed rail line from Detroit to Lansing (over 50 miles).
Thirty years too late. Right now in Vancouver there is talk of extending the rail to the University of British Columbia, Vancouver…because people have seen the benefits of public transportation. Furthermore, Vancouver has a significant ridership (as well as a growing population). Metro Detroiters are conditioned to use cars, no matter what the price of gas is. But even if they could be conditioned to use public transportation…given the state of the region’s economy where would they take a Skytrain to? The region may have another chance to live together, but I don’t think some type of high speed rail line is going to be part of it. Folks in Lansing are living a pipe dream. Or maybe, smoking one.