Reporting Mike Campbell
DETROIT (WWJ)- It opened back in 1987 at a cost of $200 million — $60 million over budget and two years late. Now, 24 years later, the future of Detroit’s People Mover is hanging over the deep end.
As WWJ’s Mike Campbell reports, the People Mover won’t be moving any people as soon as December, unless new operating money can be found.
The tram’s annual budget is $12 million, but the Detroit Transportation Company, which operates the three-mile elevated train loop, says they’re facing a funding crisis fueled by Detroit’s cutbacks, including a $1 million cut in their operating subsidy from the city — which is threatening federal funds as well.
The group said they have done what they can to cut back on costs. The company has reduced staff from 84 to 77, and has plans to raise rates from 50 cents to 75 cents beginning in November. In spite of those measures, the company is still coming up a couple million dollars short.
City Council President Charles Pugh said the company might be able to get some emergency transportation funds from the U.S. government to keep the people mover moving. But, the undecided future of the train has the company and riders worried about a potential shut down.
“Without it, how are people going to get around? It’s pretty much easy and convenient to move around,” one rider said.
“I don’t know what they should do, but they should keep it going. I don’t think they should shut it down. I mean, forever? I don’t think so,” another rider commented.
The People Mover gets much of its ridership from the North American International Auto Show each January.