Bring rail transit to Detroit Metro Airport – NOW!



With one of the most modern midfield terminals (McNamara Terminal) in the nation, Detroit Metropolitan Airport has much to be proud of. This magnificent structure impresses nearly everyone who uses it. Among its seriously cool features is the elevated internal ExpressTram service that run most of the length (3,700 feet) of this massive, mile–long facility.  In fact, McNamara Terminal is the second longest airport terminal in the world.

ExpressTram - Source:

Detroit Metro ExpressTram – Source:

While rail is obviously utilized within Detroit Metro, the overall facility is anything but rail transit friendly at the present time. Passengers arriving and departing are limited to using their own vehicles, shuttles, cabs, and buses. Granted this is the Motor City, but trains have motors too! Fortunately, there is a silver lining, as a Norfolk Southern Railroad line abuts the northern boundary of the airport aside I-94. This rail line corridor is perfectly suited for bringing rail transit from downtown Detroit right into the heart of the airport and serve both the North and McNamara Terminals.



About three miles north of the airport terminals is another Norfolk Southern line that connects Chicago with Detroit and is also used for AMTRAK’s Wolverine service. A new off-site airport station along this line would include a bus rapid transit or light rail connection from the station to the airport along Merriman Road, according to the 2007 alternatives analysis.

A few years back I was at Detroit Metro Airport as two of my sons were departing on a scout trip. While there, an upset and somewhat disheveled women walked into the terminal from outside. As she passed us, she stated out loud, “what kind of city doesn’t have train service to its airport?” Very good question. Hopefully, in the VERY near future all of us in Southeast Michigan will be able to enjoy such a world-class rail transit system in one of the formats identified above.

This entry was posted in Active transportation, Advocacy, air travel, airport planning, airports, aviation, Cars, cities, commerce, culture, economic development, geography, infrastructure, land use, Passenger rail, placemaking, planning, rail, spatial design, technology, tourism, Trade, transit, transportation, urban planning and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Bring rail transit to Detroit Metro Airport – NOW!

  1. Larry Krieg says:

    Rick – good points. The rail line parallel to Michigan Avenue now belongs to the State of Michigan from Kalamazoo to Dearborn. Along with enhancing the line for higher speed and capacity, there are plans for regional rail service between (initially) Ann Arbor and Detroit, with a stop at Henry Ruff Road, directly north of DTW. The plan is to provide a shuttle bus to the airport. Since initial service, beginning perhaps 2016, is for five round-trips daily, this won’t meet the needs of air travelers, but at least it’s a start. See the SEMCOG site:


  2. really really good transportation i know the way thank you share it here.


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