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Transportation Tips: Getting to and Around Detroit

By Meghan McGowan and Stephanie Swanberg

As you plan your trip to MLA/SLA ‘23, transportation is key! We’ve compiled this list of transportation options and tips to help you navigate between the airport, two conference hotels, and conference center while also exploring the city!

Getting Here: Transportation between the Airport and Conference Hotels, Conference Center

It’s about a 25-minute car ride from Detroit Metro Airport (DTW) to the Detroit Marriott at the Renaissance Center (RenCen), Hotel Indigo Detroit Downtown, or Huntington Place. There is one public transportation option via bus, but your best bet is likely getting an Uber, Lyft, or taxi. Reserving a Metro Car or Metro Cab ahead of time is also an option, especially if you’re traveling in a group and will arrive at DTW together:

  • Metro Car (~$55) - Sedan (1-4 passengers) or SUV (1-6 passengers).
    • To Reserve: Reservations requested at least 24 hours in advance. Call to book a Metro Car: (800) 456-1701 or book online.
  • Metro Cab (~$81 plus 20% gratuity to the driver) - Black car chauffeured service.
    • To Reserve: Reservations requested at least 24 hours in advance. Call to book a Metro Cab (Detroit area): (734) 997-6500 or book online.
  • FAST Michigan 261 Bus ($2 one-way fare; purchase ahead via Dart App; 1-hour ride) - The bus will pick up riders at the DTW Airport and take them downtown with some stops along the way. Find more information here (note: the Cobo Convention Center on the Downtown Map is now Huntington Place). The Detroit Transit app, mentioned below, will also have information about this route!

Getting Around the Hotels and Conference Center

Both conference hotels are very close to Huntington Place - 0.6 miles for the RenCen and 0.3 miles for Hotel Indigo Detroit Downtown. Enjoy an 8-minute stroll from Hotel Indigo or a 12-minute walk along the Riverwalk from the RenCen to the conference center. A shuttle service has also been organized by MLA and shuttle buses will run on a loop between the RecCen, Hotel Indigo, and Huntington Place on the following dates and times:

  • Wednesday, May 17: 6:30 a.m. – 8:00 p.m., local time
  • Thursday, May 18: 6:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., local time
  • Friday, May 19: 6:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., local time

Parking Near the Hotels & Conference Center

Attendees are responsible for their own parking during the conference. Here are the local options available:

  • At Detroit Marriott at the RenCen: On-site parking is available. The cost is $6 hourly and $25 daily. Guests also have access to valet parking, which is $40 daily. You can find more information about parking and amenities here.
  • At Hotel Indigo: Only valet parking is available at the hotel for $40 per day. Self-parking in surrounding garages and lots is another option. Find more information about parking here.
  • At Huntington Place: Parking on-site is $30 per day. Please note, the parking garages only accept card payments, they do not accept cash. Find more information about parking at Huntington Place here.
  • Other Area Parking: If you plan to commute to/from Detroit daily for the conference, street parking or parking garages even just a few blocks away from Huntington Place or the RenCen may be more economical options. We highly recommend downloading the Park Detroit app (iTunes; Google Play; website). In Detroit, street parking is organized by zone. This means that rather than paying for a specific spot, you’re paying to park in a defined region. Though there are still physical kiosks near street parking to pay, the Park Detroit app allows you to renew your parking via app, rather than running back out to a kiosk to load up. Park Detroit also uses GPS technology to locate open parking near your location, including metered parking and garages. It’s a handy app to have readily available during your visit. Find more information about the Park Detroit app here.

Getting Around Detroit

As our previous posts have alluded to, there are a number of transportation options if you want to explore the city during your time here. Here, we’ve organized maps and local city transportation options: 


City Transportation Options:

  • The Detroit Transit app is a useful tool to have at the ready! The app guides you through available routes using DDOT buses, SMART/FAST buses, the Detroit People Mover, and the QLine using real-time data from all the aforementioned with the exception of the Detroit People Mover, which always operates on the same schedule. Here’s the website that contains more information about the app and how to download it.
  • The Detroit People Mover is an elevated tram that circles Downtown Detroit. Tokens are 75 cents per ride. If you’re grabbing a bite to eat Downtown, there’s a good chance you can take the People Mover to get where you need to go! The Detroit People Mover operates Monday-Thursday 7:00 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., Fridays from 7:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m., Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m., and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. Here’s the website for route and fare information.
  • The QLine is a streetcar that travels from the Detroit River into the New Center neighborhood down Woodward Avenue. If you’re heading from the hotel to the Detroit Institute of Arts, the Wright Museum, or the Detroit Historical Museum, you can get there via QLine! At present, the QLine is piloting complimentary service, but if the fares return between this publication and the conference, expect to pay $1.50. The QLine operates Monday – Saturday 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. on Sundays. Here is a station map.
  • DDOT and SMART/FAST Buses. The buses are the only public transportation option that reach outside Downtown Detroit and the Woodward Corridor (Downtown, Midtown, New Center). We caution that if your destination is time sensitive, choosing another mode of transportation may be your better option as the bus schedule is not always as reliable as Detroiters would like. Here’s the website for more information about routes and you can find fare information here!

If none of the available public transportation options get you where you need to go, there are plenty of Ubers, Lyfts, and cabs available. Unlike other big cities, you may need to call a cab company directly rather than flagging them down. Consider Metro Cab, City Cab, or Checker as options.

Safe travels and look out for our final wrap-up post next week!

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