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Getting Around Detroit

Detroit-and the state of Michigan in general-has very few public transportation options. Cities are abandoning public bus routes, and with a few exceptions, the remaining ones are not popular amongst locals. Detroit has a monorail in its downtown known as the People Mover, but most locals avoid it (especially at night). Amtrak trains connect parts of Michigan to destinations in other states, although taking the train always costs more and frequently takes longer than driving. There is no subway system anywhere in the state, and hardly anything is within walking distance. There are several taxi companies in the Detroit area, but they are very expensive and people wishing to use one must call in advance.

The best way to get around Detroit and its metropolitan area is to rent a car. While this can be pricey, Michigan’s lack of public transportation and readily available taxis leave no alternative. A variety of rental options can be found at the airport and throughout Southeastern Michigan, so shop around to find the company that best suits your needs. When choosing a rental car, try to get one from an American company such as Ford, General Motors, or Chrysler. Since the American auto industry is based in Detroit, the vast majority of Michiganders drive American cars and look favorably on others who do the same.

While the roads themselves are for the most part well maintained, expect occasional potholes. Extensive construction is common during the summer months and can cause significant delays, so check the local news for information before heading out. Be cautious when driving in the wintertime, as snow and ice can make ordinarily safe roads very dangerous. It is usually safe to drive almost everywhere; especially in the places visitors are likely to go. People planning to drive through the city of Detroit at night, however, should ask at their hotel about areas to avoid. Parking is widely available, except in the busiest of areas such as on university campuses and near major sporting arenas. If parking in the city of Detroit, use an official, supervised lot rather than parking on the street.

Finally, Metro Detroit’s highway system will likely seem chaotic to visitors, and signs in Michigan are notoriously confusing. Visitors traveling to an unfamiliar destination should either use a GPS system or print a map and directions. Additionally, police enforce traffic laws very strictly, especially in the suburbs. Always go the speed limit, and be careful not to park illegally.