The transit news keeps coming. The Detroit Transit Corporation's Board of Directors announced last week that the People Mover will have a Zero Fare Pilot program in 2024.

The current system for fare collection allows for no electronic payment. Passengers can only pay in coins, tokens, or pre-paid cards with magnetic strips. The cost to update the fare system is about $5 million. 

The cost of fares will be offset by sponsorships. 

"With the number of major downtown activities next year, including the NFL Draft, the Zero Fare Pilot will provide Detroit residents, workers and visitors with more access to these events, as well as to services and connecting transit trips - all at no cost," says Robert Cramer, DTC General Manager.

The NFL Draft is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to downtown Detroit over a three-day period in April.

Ridership on the People Mover is not up to pre-pandemic levels, and is estimated at about 672,000 this year. In comparison, the Qline is nearing 1 million rides this year, and they also have a free fare program.   

The People Mover runs a 2.2-mile loop around downtown Detroit, while the Qline runs 3 miles up and down Woodward from downtown to New Center. Although they have stations near each other, they don't truly connect. 

The Board of Directors will discuss the state of the Zero Fare program in July, where they'll consider the future of the program. 

The People Mover will be closed New Year's Day, and will open for free on January 2.