Detroit Metropolitan Airport's (DTW) McNamara Terminal, Concourse A, is the world’s second-longest airport concourse spanning nearly a mile from end-to-end. Running indoors above the majority of the length of this concourse is the airport’s ExpressTram™. The ExpressTram™ system consists of two trains running in a single lane with a bypass in the center. The ExpressTram™ whisks travelers across the length of the concourse in just three minutes including the dwell time at the center (Terminal) station.
The ExpressTram™ system was developed and specially-built for DTW by Otis Elevator Company of Farmington, Conn. Each of the system’s two, two-car molded fiberglass trains can hold 210 people standing and eight seated, and with this capacity, is capable of moving 4,000 passengers per hour per direction.
With a cruising speed of 30 mph (48.3 kph) for the East Train and 26 mph (41.9 kph) for the West Train, the trams levitate on a half-inch of air created by 72 air pads on the bottom of each train. Borrowing from elevator technology, cables pull the trams along the elevated beds. The trams have no internal motors--the system is powered by two, 700-horsepower motors at the concourse's north end. As a result, a ride on DTW’s ExpressTram™ is as quiet as taking a high-speed elevator. This cable-pulled, air-levitated technology also minimizes vibration transfer to the building, which allowed the ExpressTram™ to be elevated and contained within the building structure (first of its kind at an airport).
The ExpressTram™ has three stations. LED signs and speakers above each trains’ sliding doors tell passengers what station they are approaching, and what access is served by each station:
- Terminal Station – located in the center of the concourse with easy access to gates A29-A55, Check-in, Baggage Claim, Ground Transportation, and the tunnel to Concourses B & C
- South Station – providing convenient access to gates A1-A28
- North Station – providing convenient access to gates A56-A78
Additionally, Flight Information Displays (FIDs) throughout the McNamara Terminal display red ExpressTram ™ icons next to flights for which a tram ride is recommended.
Escalators and elevators carry passengers to the elevated stations. Suspended from the central (Terminal) station and facing the terminal's entrance is a 50-foot LED map that allows passengers to track the trams along their route. Each station platform also features an LED map showing the locations of each tram and counting down the time until the next tram’s arrival.