M1 Train Train Gonna Take Me Right Out of This Town

I love Dolly Parton (she inspired the title) I once broke out a rousing version of Jolene at Cafe D’Mongo’s while a cute litte folksy chica played it on her little guitar.

Anyway, I saw a little article on Buzzfeed about how we (as America, I guess) shouldn’t discount Detroit in 2013. Loved it! The first and most concrete reason on the list was the M1 Light Rail. Detroit finally enters the world of public transit with the M1 Light Rail project — 3.3 miles of pure transpo between New Center and Downtown.

SUGGESTION: Let’s call it New Center, not New Center Area. Area is a sloppy city suffix. Someone wasn’t trying that hard.

I’m definitely an advocate for the original Light Rail plan (for it to extend into the northern chic ‘burbs), but am more than elated that The D has an established public transportation plan.

But there’s a missing element. All of America’s Glory Cities have beautiful train stations:

Union Station in Chicago, Grand Central Station in NYC


(flickr: dawhitfield, p_a_h)

You know what Detroit’s train station looks like? The one that all the Amtrak trains and the Megabus passes through?


Erm…Do you see an abandoned Taco Bell? I see an abandoned Taco Bell.

Behold your grandiose entrance to Detroit! This station is going stop No. 10 on the new M1 Light Rail line. But is this what you want outsiders to see when they first arrive in Detroit? Or better even worse, is this the depressing sight that you want Detroiters to return to after arriving from Union Station after a weekend in Chicago?

You’re probably thinking, “Back the train up (hehe), what about that other train station in Detroit? That big abandoned one that is a grillion stories high?”


That train station, Michigan Central Station, in fact was Detroit’s answer to Grand Central and Union back in the day. It was pretty sexy back in the day, but it’s defunct now and it’s owner, Matty Moron  Moroun, owns it and refuses to do anything with it. Though my friend Marissa does count every time Matty puts a new window in on her Instagram.

But at this point, I think that train station (Michigan Central Station) should be left as it is. It’s gone from being an eyesore to a tourist attraction (No lie, a friend of mine had a Swiss couch surfer who came to Detroit to see MCS). The Detroit train station is kind of like the first modern-day Colosseum. Throw in some food truck and plant some grass around that puppy and boom! Insta-tourist attraction. (I can see the Instagram photos now). Fact is, the train station is s a ruin, but it’s a big, beautiful ruin. And you know I’m all abouts my BBRs, Okrrr?

But back to the New Center Train Station: While I’m sure the light rail will have lots of little but great stations around dotting Woodward, the Amtrak station needs to be something special. Take advantage of the audience you have captive! For some people, coming in on the Amtrak will be the first introduction to our fair city, and we’ve worked so hard for that impression NOT to be:


There might be a part deux to this one, because I’d like to go into the details of what a makes for a good train station. Peace for nao.


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