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December 18th, 2009
Blueprint America

Blueprint America: Beyond the Motor City examines how Detroit, a symbol of America’s diminishing status in the world, may come to represent the future of transportation and progress in America. The film debuts nationally on PBS on February 8 at 10 pm (check local listings).

  • David Greenwood

    Metro Detroit is in desparate need of mass transit, however it is also in desparate need of an educated work force/educated voters. These are the people who will care for & tend to this missing piece of infrastructure. What we need in Detroit is plenty. We need public education reform, jobs (which will help bring health care), housing and mass transit. One without the others simply won’t work.

  • Christopher Currie

    Those who live in the state of Michigan, like myself, bear some of the greatest burdens in light of recent events concerning the automotive industry companies. Indeed, the now-nationwide trend of closing factories and dealerships brings to light just how serious the crisis is. Now that the federal government, via taxpayer money, are majority stakeholders in General Motors, I feel that the engineering and mass-production/assembly resources at GM (and if possible, Chrysler) can and should be used to help design and implement comprehensive mass-transit systems like high speed rail, light rail, and green-friendly alternative-fuel buses for use both regionally and nationwide.

    Weren’t the auto factories refitted during World War II to build tanks and such? The American auto industry’s backyard of Michigan would be great to start pilot projects connecting cities with 21st century transit systems. It would be a means of bolstering America’s workforce nationwide and go a long way toward strengthening the economy. In the midst of public debate on what its restructuring means, I feel that there is a potentially missed opportunity not being explored.

    Public Transit systems help lessen the overall fuel emissions made by the vehicles we drive. It also helps those who currently can’t afford their own vehicle meet family, work and school obligations.

  • Arthur Robertson

    My “opinion” of the future vision of Detroit’s transportation infrastructure,will not
    alone improve the city image it once held during 20th century,contrary to a (modern 12st Century transportation infrastructure)with innovated technology means. Detroit, Michigan still remains one
    of the nation’s top leaders among Science and Technology, However; the State of Michigan currently facing well over a billion dollar deficit, which it need to create ways to pay-off it’s debt. Consider the state purchasing bonds,
    and when foreign competitors, merge into our business cycle, with quote (restrictions),import,and exports, the State of Michigan most respond with a tariff on all imports ( 100% tax levys)with policies requiring outside mergers to be resopnsible for at least 30 percent of
    their production,prodcued within the state of Michigan, foriegn competitors most recognize revenues profit sharing among Michigan owned based businesses. “Laisses-faire” doctoring , not to allow the government to
    impose , rather , allow businesses to inherent thier own laws, regulation. Stop sending our jobs overseas. Some nations engage in “cartel” practices, which is illgeal in the United States ( taking bribes). Detroit needs more Engineers, to rebuild their confidence, with innovated technology to enahance that future 21st century transportation infrastructure image it so deserves.

  • Roddy O’Neil Cleary

    Beyond the Motor City lifts my senior spirits. It signals hope and promise for the future. Thank you for this piece of Good News to a world threatened by global warming!

  • Amy Senese

    I don’t have a TV, anyone know where I can watch this online?

  • Blueprint America Website

    If you don’t have a TV, just watch it on this website — — starting Feb. 8 at 10 pm.

  • LuAnne Kozma

    This preview is fantastic and Lee Gaddies is a visionary. I can’t wait to see the whole show. A caution about those high-speed rail plans–in California, there is much controversy that their high speed rail plan will destroy parks. With all the roads and highways Detroit has, there are many locations for mass transit that will protect and enhance Detroit’s parks and greenspace, not sacrifice them. To be totally green, we have to re-commit ourselves to protecting every acre of parkland, and not be satisfied with later additions of grayfields and brownfields turned into inferior, post industrial contaminated parks. Mass transit can have a lead role in revitalizing the city’s parks by helping bring people to them.

  • Curious

    How is this proposed system going to be any different from the Detroit People Mover light rail system? You know, the one that costs the city around $3.00 for every $0.50 fair and is used at less than 15% of it’s capacity. Serious question…


    Some cool old pictures of Deetroit

  • Brad

    Man-caused global warming is a scam. Design transit based on their economic feasiblity and not to save the world from a non-existent “threat.” Whatever you design, it should pay for itself using passenger fares.

  • Joe Dunst

    Mass Transit: Light Rail is the solution to our problems…we must end the primary use of our autos.
    The Oil Shieks are laughing all the way to their banks.

  • A. HIll

    A question: Does anyone knows what time and channel this will show in Atlanta,Ga if it is national? Not find PBS on Comcast here in the Atl. Thanks

  • john_in_NH

    Brad, it should pay for itself just as if the roads do right ;) hint the roads do not pay for themselves at all anymore, not with gas tax, or with tolls, so do not pretend that they do and then pretend to force mass transit into your skewed ideas. Climate change not withstanding, do you really like giving money to the terrorists every time you take your car out to the store? Detroit has huge promise; it can be a place of rebirth. I am very excited for this tonight!

  • Anne Haynes

    When will this show be show again in the Mid Atlantic?

  • Carl Davis

    Christopher Curries’ comment is right on the $. Our government should lead our young engineers in the right direction. A transit system between cities is paramount. Let us not forget to incorporate intamacy in our travels as we enjoy now.

  • Richard

    “How is this proposed system going to be any different from the Detroit People Mover light rail system?”

    Simple. The people mover moves around in a circle in a very limited area of downtown. No one uses it because poeple still need to drive downtown in order to get there. Lightrail is suppsoed to connect people from outside Detroit–not just be a gimmicky tourist thing that simple doesn’t work.

    The monorail in seattle is similar to the People Mover in Detroit, it’s a joke to local residents and only used by tourists. Unfortunately Detrot doesn’t have many tourists…however, if lightrail helps revitalize downtown, that may be different.

  • mikeypzy

    The Automobile Killed Detroit???
    If only there was a mass transit system in the city everything would be fine???
    Detroit’s fall started in the 60’s and was cemented during Mayor Colman A. Young’s 30 year administration. He nearly single handedly destroyed Detroit’s hopes. He was anti-white. Anti-business. Anti-media. For those who didn’t experience that look it up. For those who did, be honest. That’s why I live in Virginia now.
    Thanks for the commercial for public transit PBS.

  • Jonathan Brown

    Where can I purchase a copy of this documentary?

  • John Edwards

    Lot of theory.

    If something fails — like the Detroit People Mover, which has not returned fairly to taxpayers — who will be held accountable?

  • Eva Garcia

    This was such a well-rounded and illuminating review of the role transportation plays in our everyday life and longer-term development of our cities. As a Vancouver, BC, Canada resident, I was both impressed with the the possibilities that Detroit has offered to the rest of the world in its interweaving of transit and urban planning, and encouraged by the luminary role it can hold in the future. Our own city has been going through so much discussion and reconfiguration as it looks to continue growing in a sustainable, responsible and efficient manner.

  • roger crowe

    An excellent study of Detroits transportation history. I was thrilled to see a shot of my father on the last street cars . He was in a sombrero and had a mexican blanket over his shoulder. Many of our steet cars went to Mexico City for service there. The Mexican official who was supposed to be there did not show up. My father took his place for a photo shoot. He was asked to stand in because his Am. Indian appearance let him pass for a Mexican.

  • James Kinsey

    I was born in Detroit and lived there for many years. I’ve seen Mayors try to bring it back. They did a lot of things downtown like the people mover, casinos, new stadiums and so on. Which are good for downtown. But the neighbourhoods got worse. Very little money in the areas were people lived, so they moved out to the burbs. People would commute to the city to work, go to events and then go back to the suburbs and shop in the malls out there. To me, the light rail would help those people commute, but will not bring them back to live in Detroit. If you look at the people, after it was made, people try it out because it was something new. But after years passed, it got to be old news and less people used it. To the point they took some of the cars off. I used to work for GM in the motor city, and after the Clark street plant closed, I was layed off for 9 years. I got the chance to transfer to a plant in New York. I’ve been here for 15 years. People ask me would I ever transfer or move back to Detroit, and I just say no, it’s nothing there. If jobs are made in the neighbourhood, not just nail and hair salons, and the crimes problems would go down, then maybe I and others would move back.

  • R.L.

    I missed program… does anyone know when will it be aired again?

  • Floccina

    There are other cities built after the invention of the car spread out like Detroit and so without effective mass transit systems. They are also built around the car but they are growing and so would be a much better place to experiment with mass transit in such an environment. Places like Huston, Dallas, Phoenix and Miami are among them. (BTW I think the density in Miami is rising near the city center.)

    The problem with Detroit is not lack of transportation but that there is not much reason to go there. The weather is bad and the fact that it is between iron and coal reserves and on St Lawrence sea way is no long important.

  • Raymondo

    First they have to clean up city council!

  • Shelby Citizen

    As someone who has grown up in the suburbs, lived within the city and is now raising a family in the northern suburbs of Detroit I fear people are blind to what truly ails the city. Everywhere public transportation is available and runs into the suburbs, crime and decay follows. Public transportation is now the destroyer of neighborhoods not a builder of neighborhoods. I feel truly unwelcome and unwanted whenever I enter the city. Going into the city with my preteen children is like going for a visit to the zoo, my children are shocked and entertained by the sights of decayed building surrounding beautiful stadiums, homeless people walking the streets as thousands of SUV’s pass them by on the streets of Greektown and Mexicotown. How will mass transit help the suburbs? Why should the suburbs pay to transport the crime and decay of Detroit out to them?
    Detroit is not like most cities. Detroit needs public transit to get to shopping and jobs not vice versa. It’s a mistake to think you can return Detroit to its past glory within the next couple of generations and it’s not fair to the suburbs that if you live within five blocks of a SMART bus stop you face three times the crime as anywhere else in the area. Instead of Detroit becoming revitalized, pockets of the suburbs around which access has been given to Detroiters have become war zones. Detroit is a virus and other than the few fortified islands created within the city limits by suburbanites the city is a dead zone and people are right to fear for their lives while visiting. Only by letting the city completely destroy itself and then be taken over by the state of Michigan can there be any hope of a revival.

  • L. Vincent

    Except for a few details, like references to GM & Chrysler and the People Mover, this IS St. Louis.
    Get a grip people, nobody is ever going to move back in to the(se) city(ies). If the city repopulates it will be from the outside. Said differently it will be immigrants, non-Detroit(St. Louis), citizens some legal some illegal who will begin to fill up these dying cities. Poverty and crime will still reign. It will not prevent these cities’ eventual death(s). The ‘System’ has foretold their demise. Sorry.

  • L. Vincent

    Except for a few details, like references to GM & Chrysler and the People Mover, this IS St. Louis.
    Get a grip people, nobody is ever going to move back in to the(se) city(ies). If the city repopulates it will be from the outside. Said differently it will be immigrants, non-Detroit(St. Louis), citizens some legal some illegal who will begin to fill up these dying cities. Hours of operation; 9 to 5. Lights out at 6pm. Poverty and crime will still reign. It will not prevent these cities’ eventual death(s). The ‘System’ has foretold their demise. Sorry.

  • BB

    I was disappointed that they left out the fact that the removal of the trolley system was a conspiracy of car, tire, and oil companies. But this was a fantastically inspiring film, especially the idea of bringing rapid train systems to the entire country like Europe & Japan have. Airplanes should only be for transnational travel — trains are the way to go!

  • Ryan Klotz

    The M-1 (Woodward Ave.) Light rail Project was set to begin construction in February. But was halted by the city’s increasing defeceit, that project’s been halted. I know I’m stating the obvious but, the railway system, the Detroit of old needs to somehow make a comeback. From watching this, it seems to me that the “Old Train Station” was the major hub for transportation. That was a way for the separate communities to come together and end the segregation that’s so apparent. There are people who have been upset at the fact that a lot of people and movies have singled out 8 Mile road as the point between “the good and the bad”. Well I’m sorry but, it’s kind of true.

    Besides our ever present debt, I don’t believe that there are enough people who even care about this issue.

    If we[Michigan] had taken the funds that were offered to us in 1976, to go ahead and build a better transportation plan or system. I think that we would live in a much more peaceful and thriving society here in Michigan. But as is the case now, our elected officials were bickering way too much. And refused to take those funds.

  • Beau

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ???


    Soem very interesting information on the motor city. I hope they can get things turned around. I drive an auto transport and see some pretty rough things up their. I also have seem some signs of improvement lately.

  • jr

    I saw this film last night. It was interesting and I question the following:
    Like BB says above, removing the previous street car infrastructure was not simply due to “the rise of the private automobile” as stated in the film, it was a deliberate buy-out by the auto industry to dominate regional transportation.
    Also, the film left me with the sense that it was a big high speed rail commercial which runs counter to the producer’s comments post-screening about big expensive solutions being more sexy than more effective 10 cent solutions. Why was there not a single mention of bicycles as part of the transportation network? Detroit is certainly climatically challenged but no more so than Minnesota, Wisconsin or Quebec. All that asphalt, fairly flat topography and less expensive infrastructure makes bicycles a viable part of a transit network and citizens’ independence.

    I wonder how Spain feels now, 1yr after filming, about its investment in rail given recent austerity measures. I suspect they are even more pleased that they committed when they did.
    I’d love to read a follow up on that and on the stalled M1 project.

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