It’s hard not to admire the relatively new and futuristic looking QLine streetcars in Detroit that seem to glide effortlessly up and down Woodward Ave., between New Center and downtown. Yet, for some QLine riders on the 6.6 circulating route, it seems hard to pay the required fare.
Like most transit systems across the United States, there’s a segment of individuals who wants to ride free for various reasons. Cities with mass transit systems, like New York, Chicago, and Atlanta among others, have faced fare evading riders for decades. However M-1 RAIL, who owns and oper-ates the QLine, is hoping to slowdown and stop offenders of fare evasion, with a newly enforceable method. But, not before giving people every chance to purchase tickets to ride.
According to Dan Lijana, communication officer for M-1 RAIL, there are three ways in which riders can purchase QLine tickets: pay cash on the respective streetcar, purchase tickets through a mo-bile app, or purchase tickets with a credit card at one of the QLine stations. Lijana said there are ambassadors on the streetcars to assist riders needing to purchase tickets, especially during peak travel times such as morning and evening rush hours, as well as when major events are happening downtown. The ambassadors help make the entire QLine riding experience enjoyable in multiple ways.
While there are multiple ways to assist riders to purchase tickets, there are still some riders who can’t, don’t or won’t pay. So what happens when a rider refuses to pay to ride the QLine?
“The transit police becomes involved,” said Lijana, if the ambassador is at an impasse with the pas-senger. “Last week, transit police issued 17 fare evasion tickets, which are misdemeanors. The fare evader is required to make an appearance before 36th District Court, where the court sets the punishment, which can be anywhere between no fine at all, or a fine up to a $500.”
Lijana said the 36th District Court also has the authority to sentence a fare evader to jail. Lijana emphasized that M1/QLine does not set the punishment, or make the determination that fare eva-sion is a misdemeanor. In addition, he’s not sure of all the reasons why people don’t or won’t pay to ride.
The QLine opened to the public on Friday, May 12, 2017, and offered free rides until Tuesday, Sept. 5, the day after Labor Day. During the free-ride period, the QLine accommodated almost 50,000 riders, an average of a little more than 7,140 daily. Since the QLine began charging in Sep-tember, the streetcar system is averaging about 3,000 rides per day, which, according to Lijana, is what M-1 Rail projected.
“For the most part, riders are paying the fares,” Lijana added. “That’s why QLine has ambassadors on streetcars, to help individuals with methods and opportunities to pay. Sometimes people get on because they are in a hurry and didn’t get a ticket at the station. Our ambassadors can help.”
QLine ticket prices, said Lijana, are $1.50 for a three-hour pass, $3.00 for a day pass, $30.00 for a monthly pass, and $185 for an annual pass, which is prorated depending on when it’s purchased. Senior fares are half price of the tickets available to other riders.
With the warmer weather of spring and summer approaching, Lijana knows ridership will increase. He is greatly encouraging everyone to get on board the QLine, but please pay.
“Our main goal is to make sure that we provide all riders with safe, enjoyable and consistent streetcar service,” Lijana said. “But, we want people to ride and we want people to pay. We have no incentive to want transit police to issue tickets. We don’t recoup any money from any judge-ments that may result from fare evaders appearing and possibly paying fines in 36th District Court.”
Marvin Jeffers and his wife Carli, are frequent QLine riders downtown from their residence in New Center to attend Detroit Pistons’ games.
“I really haven’t seen anyone get a ticket for not paying, and as another rider you don’t know who has or does have a ticket in their possession,” said Marvin. “Sometimes, especially during Red Wings and Pistons games at Little Caesar Arena, the QLine is so packed. But, my advice is that it’s best for everyone to just pay the fare to ride, because it’s much cheaper than what they’re going to pay at the 36th District Court.”
For more information about purchasing tickets and other pertinent information about the QLine, log on to http://www.Qlinedetroit.com