Photo: Wikimedia/42-BRT

UTDC-built ALRT cars 7 and 11 approaching Millender Center on Detroit’s downtown peoplemover loop.

USA: Municipal officials in Detroit have approved funding for Detroit Transportation Corp to replace its fleet of automated peoplemover cars with vehicles from Toronto.

Similar to the first generation of Skytrain cars for Vancouver, the UTDC-built ALRT vehicles were used on Toronto Transit Commission’s Scarborough Rapid Transit automated light metro line. That route was closed following a derailment in July 2023 and is now being replaced by an extension of TTC’s Bloor-Danforth heavy metro line, which is expected to open around 2030.


Photo: Wikimedia/EelamStyleZ

The Scarborough ALRT vehicles are similar to those in Detroit, but have driving cabs despite being equipped for automated operation.

Detroit’s 4·8 km downtown peoplemover runs on a unidirectional loop through the city centre, and it currently has a fleet of 12 cars that operate in pairs. These date from opening in 1987. DTC told local media that while the Scarborough RT trainsets were technically similar, they have driving cabs despite being used in automated mode, whereas its existing cars do not.

DTC believes that buying the secondhand vehicles would save the city several million dollars compared to the cost of procuring a newly designed fleet.

DTC has been allocated $38m by the city council to cover operation of the peoplemover until 2029. This includes the $6m projected cost of buying and commissioning the ex-TTC trainsets. As a trial aimed at growing ridership, no fares are being charged on the peoplemover in 2024.

DTC hopes that the fleet replacement could be completed within the next 18 months.