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Detroit's QLine streetcar service reduced due to the coronavirus


  • Steve Neavling

Officials say they are reducing the service of the QLine streetcar in response to decreased demand due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The reduced service goes into effect on Thursday. Officials say the cuts to service amount to a 50% reduction, with two of the system's total of six streetcars operating from 6 a.m-8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-8.p.m on Saturday and Sunday.

“Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our riders and staff,” M-1 RAIL CEO Matt Cullen said in a statement. “The decision to reduce service was made after careful deliberation and conversation with our regional partners. Reduced service allows M-1 RAIL to provide staffing flexibility and protective measures for our staff and riders."

Ridership for the $197-million streetcar had already been falling short of expectations. In early 2019, the QLine had an average of 2,490 riders a day, according to records obtained by the Federal Transit Administration — far lower than the projected 5,000 to 8,000 daily riders. Ridership plunged after the streetcar started enforcing fare collection, and once they became notorious for delays.

The news follows Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's executive order calling for Michigan residents to avoid non-essential travel for the next three weeks in an attempt to slow the spread of the virus.

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