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Re-Imaging Michigan Central Station as the Gateway to Detroit

Making Michigan Central Station a regional transit hub and direct line to downtown Detroit

Photo of Bryce Watson
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Michigan Central Station

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If we were to re-imagine the Michigan Central Station and Corktown as the gateway to Detroit, many opportunities would open up to the city of Detroit.


Michigan Central Station should connect Detroit to all the following destinations:

  • Chicago
  • Ann Arbor
  •  Detroit Metro Airport (DTW)
  • Toronto, Ontario

There should also be a fast Underground Transit system to downtown from the Central Station along Michigan Avenue that connects:

  • Michigan Central Station
  • Downtown, Campus Martius
  • Eastern Market
  • Midtown (Q-Line)

(This idea has already been previous discussed in this post: )



Establishing a line from Michigan Central Station to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport would be a huge improvement to regional transit. Most European Cities have established public transit from their airports to their city centers including Berlin, London, Paris and Budapest.  

This would allow business personal a dependable line to get downtown, explore Corktown, stay, work, eat, shop and return to the airport all without renting a car. 

In term of local residences, as long as you can secure a ride to the train station (Uber, friend, family, ect.), you can now to get the airport without having to pay for parking or an expensive over priced Uber fee. 


Currently there is a University of Michigan bus called the Detroit Connection. This bus transports people between Detroit and Ann Arbor. Having a rail service that continues on from the Detroit Wayne Airport to Ann Arbor, would provide another better connection between Detroit and Ann Arbor. 

There are many students and residence in Ann Arbor that do not own a car, have trouble getting to the airport, and would also like to visit downtown Detroit. A rail service to Detroit and Ann Arbor would solve this transportation issue.


There hasn't been a passenger rail service to Toronto since the 1960s. Establishing this would ideally run from the existing Chicago line, though the Michigan Central Station, and all the way to Toronto. This line would connect one of the United States biggest cities, to one of Canada's biggest cities with Detroit in the middle. 

Here's an article from the Detroit Free Press about Amtrak potentially establishing this connection:



Now that we have established a reasonable demand for services though the Michigan Central Station, we need to be able to get those people into the central business district, shopping, restaurants, entertainment etc. 

Having an underground station directly connected to Michigan Central Station, with stops along Michigan Ave, would increase the ease of arriving at your final destination in Detroit. This line would end at Downtown Campus Martius. 

This line would be essential to business, tourist, and local transportation, and anyone visiting Detroit without a car.

With the established Q-line you would also be connected trough Midtown once you've reached Campus Martius, and in time hopefully a connection to the Eastern Market. 

Imagine being able to go from Corktown to the Eastern Market along an underground line that also stops downtown. 



These established lines would bring an influx of consumers to the Corktown neighborhood. Existing business would benefit from the new customers. Michigan Avenue would continue to developed in term of mixed-used buildings, growth in residences, shops, restaurants, spaces, ect. Even hotels could develop along Michigan Avenue that could accommodate the new travel established by Michigan Central Station being the transportation hub of Detroit.


There needs to be a better way to connect people to the City of Detroit!

Establishing these regional connections and and developing an underground into Downtown Detroit would do wonders for the City of Detroit and Corktown.

Corktown and Michigan Central Station needs to be the gateway to Detroit.

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Photo of Perry MacNeille

Example of airports connected by rail are much closer than Europe. The Cleveland RTA does much of what you describe ( It links to AmTrak for regional service. The Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority manages the regional transit system there.

The Long Island Railway connects much of New York metropolitan area to JFK Airport. It is managed by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) which serves downstate New York and parts of Connecticut.

Existing rails link Michigan Central Depot, Dearborn, Detroit-Wayne County airport, Ann Arbor, and west to Chicago. I would guess AmTrak could extend service to-from Dearborn to Michigan Central Depot without much construction. A connection to the airport would require an additional stop and probably shuttles to get passengers to and from the terminals. This route follows I-94 and would have to compete for traffic. The train tunnel from Michigan Central Depot (under the Detroit River) only one track, but still operational and connects to the Canadian National Railway system.

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