The Regional Transit Authority is in talks to take over management of the QLINE, a 6.6-mile circulating streetcar route in Detroit.

The Regional Transit Authority is in talks to take over management of the QLINE, a 6.6-mile circulating streetcar route in Detroit.

Photo provided by M-1 RAIL

RTA in talks to take over QLINE in Detroit

By: Brendan Losinski | Metro | Published December 15, 2023


DETROIT — During its December meeting, the Regional Transit Authority’s board of directors began discussions regarding a plan to transfer the QLINE and its assets under the management umbrella of the RTA.

The QLINE is a 6.6-mile circulating streetcar route serving Woodward Avenue from Congress St. in Downtown Detroit through Midtown to Grand Boulevard in New Center and North End. M-1 RAIL is the nonprofit entity that owns and operates it. QLINE leadership and the City of Detroit have recommended the RTA consider this transfer.  

“It is the role of the RTA to ensure the ongoing viability of regional transit services,” Dave Massaron, chair of the RTA board of directors, said in a press release. “This transition will help ensure the QLINE remains as a transit option for the community and the city of Detroit long into the future.”  

The RTA and M-1 RAIL have initiated a collaborative due diligence process focused on all financial and operational elements of the transfer. Through this process, the RTA intends to validate M-1 RAIL’s budget and confirm that a transfer to the organization will come with a balanced budget which will impose no additional burden on the region’s taxpayers.  

This process is proposed to happen in three steps, including a formal introduction of the plan, a presentation of a resolution of intent with conditions, and the development of the transfer agreement. Phase one was completed when the plan was introduced during the RTA Board’s December meeting. M-1 RAIL President Lisa Nuszkowski provided an update on key QLINE statistics, including a financial overview, ridership numbers, and on-time performance metrics.  

Newly appointed RTA Executive Director Ben Stupka discussed the due diligence activities that will take place in the upcoming months and how the two agencies will work together to iron out the details required to vet the potential transfer.  

“We are still in the due diligence phase, and we are studying how this transition will work from a legal, financial, technical, and administrative perspective,” Stupka said in a press release. “We will continue to discuss the plan at future Board meetings, with a goal of understanding the impact of this transfer with a targeted decision in early 2024.”

The RTA stated in the same press release that they appreciate the dedication of the philanthropic community for bringing M-1 RAIL to life and their general commitment to public transit. They estimate the QLINE will carry 1 million riders in 2023.