Phone: (517) 373-8080
TRANSIT POLICE OFFICERS AND STREETCARS
House Bill 4540 as reported from committee Analysis available at
Sponsor: Rep. Tyrone A. Carter http://www.legislature.mi.gov
House Bill 4541 as reported from committee
Sponsor: Rep. Graham Filler
Committee: Government Operations
Complete to 5-3-21
House Bills 4540 and 4541 would newly include certain transit police officers as law
enforcement officers for purposes of the Michigan Commission on Law Enforcement
Standards (MCOLES) Act and as police officers for purposes of the Michigan Vehicle Code.
House Bill 4541 also would add provisions to the Michigan Vehicle Code to regulate certain
streetcars, streetcar tracks, street railways, and street railway systems. At present, the bills
would apply only to transit officers of the Detroit Transportation Corporation, the operator of
the Detroit People Mover, who also provide security for the M-1Rail/Q-Line through
contractual agreement (see Background, below).
House Bill 4540
The MCOLES Act prescribes licensing standards that require an individual to meet certain
minimum levels of training, education, physical ability, psychological and character fitness,
reading and writing proficiency, and other qualities before he or she can be employed as a law
enforcement officer in Michigan.1 The act defines law enforcement officer to mean an
individual employed by a law enforcement agency in one of several positions specified by the
act, including, for example, police officers, arson investigators, the sergeants at arms of the
legislature, and conservation officers of the Department of Natural Resources.
The bill would amend this definition of law enforcement officer to include a transit police
officer employed by a public body corporate created pursuant to an interlocal agreement under
the Urban Cooperation Act between a city and an authority under the Metropolitan
Transportation Authorities Act (see Background, below). Under the bill, the training standards
and other applicable provisions of the MCOLES Act that now generally apply to law
enforcement officers would also generally apply to transit police officers.
House Bill 4541
The Michigan Vehicle Code currently defines police officer as a sheriff or sheriff’s deputy; a
village or township marshal; an officer of a city, village, or township police department; an
officer of the Department of State Police; a peace officer licensed under the MCOLES Act; or,
under specified circumstances, a duly authorized agent of a county road commission.
House Fiscal Agency Page 1 of 5
The bill would amend this definition of police officer to also include a transit police officer
who is licensed under the MCOLES Act and is employed by a public body corporate created
pursuant to an interlocal agreement under the Urban Cooperation Act between a city and an
authority under the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities Act. The duties, responsibilities,
and powers that the Michigan Vehicle Code now generally provides to police officers would
also generally be provided to transit police officers.
Streetcars and street railways
The bill would also add or amend definitions for the terms streetcar, streetcar track, street
railway, and street railway system to distinguish these systems from railroads, railroad tracks,
and railroad trains. (As defined, those latter terms already exclude streetcars and municipal
streetcar companies. Their definitions would be amended to specifically exclude streetcars,
streetcar tracks, and streetcar railways systems.)
Streetcar would mean a car that is not a railroad train and that is operated on stationary
rails to transport people or property. It would include a streetcar operated as part of a
street railway system. (The term is currently defined as “a car other than a railroad train
for transporting persons or property and operated upon rails, principally within a
Streetcar track would mean a stationary rail owned by a street railway that is part of a
street railway system.
Street railway would mean a nonprofit corporation organized under Part 5 of the
Recodified Tax Increment Financing Act for the purpose of operating a street railway
system (other than a railroad train) for transporting people or property. The term would
include a nonprofit corporation incorporated by one or more members of the board of
directors of a street railway to finance a street railway system or to assist the street
railway in acquiring, owning, constructing, furnishing, equipping, completing,
operating, improving, or maintaining a street railway system.
Street railway system would mean the facilities, equipment, and personnel required to
provide and maintain a public transportation system operated on rails at grade or above
or below ground in a city, village, or township using streetcars, trolleys, light rail
vehicles, or trams for the transportation of people or property. The term would include
necessary power feeds, signals, and stops or stations within a public right-of-way, but
would not include facilities and improvements that are not required to maintain a public
Blocking, delaying, or interfering with the movement of streetcars
The bill would amend several provisions of the Michigan Vehicle Code that address vehicles
and vehicular traffic in order to prohibit, and provide for the removal of, vehicles or other
impediments that could block, delay, or otherwise interfere with the movement of streetcars on
a streetcar track, including provisions that deal with the following:
• Parked vehicles, bicycles, and electric skateboards with handlebars (sections 660d and
• Standing or unattended vehicles or bicycles (section 673).
• Vehicles that are broken down or involved in accidents (section 618a).
House Fiscal Agency HBs 4540 and 4541 as reported Page 2 of 5
• Impeding traffic with a barricade, object, device, or oneself (section 676b).
• Impeding traffic with a low-speed vehicle, moped, electric personal assistive mobility
device, electric skateboard, or motorcycle (section 660).
• Circumstances (such as potential to block a streetcar) that would allow for travel in lanes
other than the generally prescribed far right-hand lane (sections 634 and 660a).
The bill would allow the governing body of a county, a city, a township, a village, or an
interlocal entity created under the Urban Cooperation Act to prohibit operation of electric
personal assistive mobility devices, electric skateboards, or commercial quadricycles on a
street with streetcar tracks. The bill would also allow a unit of the public body that employs
transit police officers, as defined above, to authorize and use nonpolice volunteers to issue
citations for certain parking violations, including parking in a way that blocks, delays, or
otherwise interferes with the movement of a streetcar on a streetcar track.
The bill would add Chapter VIA (Streetcars) to the code to provide regulations related to traffic,
streetcar passenger conduct, and the removal of vehicles, bicycles, or other property that could
block, delay, or otherwise interfere with the movement of a streetcar on a streetcar track.
Conduct on a streetcar or in a station
Under the bill, a person could not do any of the following:
• Board or attempt to board a streetcar for a purpose other than buying a fare; interfere
with the collection or verification of a fare; fail to carry or refuse to provide proof of
fare payment while on a streetcar or in a streetcar station; or help anyone else do these
• Enter, use, or remain in a streetcar station for a purpose other than waiting for,
boarding, or disembarking from a streetcar or other public transit vehicle, buying a fare,
performing a licensed or authorized activity, or waiting (for up to 10 minutes) for
another passenger to disembark from a streetcar.
• Smoke (any substance), use an e-cigarette (vape), or carry lighted tobacco on a streetcar
or in a station.
• Spit on a streetcar or in a station.
• Litter on a streetcar or in a station.
• Eat, drink, or carry an open container of food or beverage on a streetcar or in a station.
(This would not apply to children who are under two years old and would not restrict
or prohibit a nursing mother from nursing her child.)
• Bring onto a streetcar or into a station a shopping cart or a package or other object that
blocks the streetcar’s aisle or doors.
• Bring an animal, other than a service animal or a qualified animal, onto a streetcar or
into a station. (Service animal would mean a guide dog, signal dog, miniature horse,
or other animal that has been individually trained to do work or perform tasks for the
benefit of a person with a disability. Qualified animal would mean an animal that
weighs 25 pounds or less and is controlled in a cage.)
• Engage in disruptive conduct that interferes with the streetcar’s operation or has a
negative impact on streetcar employees or the police.
A person who violated any of the above provisions would be responsible for a civil infraction
and could be ordered to pay a civil fine of up to $100 and costs of up to $100.
House Fiscal Agency HBs 4540 and 4541 as reported Page 3 of 5
In addition, the bill would allow a street railway system to issue a permit that would allow a
person to play live music in a station.
Required and prohibited conduct for drivers and bicyclists
The driver of a bicycle or vehicle proceeding on a streetcar track in front of a streetcar would
have to move the bicycle or vehicle off the track as soon as practicable after a signal from the
streetcar operator. The driver of a bicycle or vehicle could not drive on or cross the streetcar
track within an intersection in front of a streetcar that had started to cross the intersection. The
driver of a bicycle or vehicle could not, when passing a streetcar, turn in front of the streetcar
in a way that impeded or interfered with its movement.
A person who violated any of the above provisions would be responsible for a civil infraction
and could be ordered to pay a civil fine of up to $100 and costs of up to $100. For a moving
violation resulting in an at-fault collision with another vehicle, the civil fine would be increased
by $25 (but still could not be more than $100).
Removal of property
Finally, the bill would allow a law enforcement agency or street railway to immediately
remove or cause to be removed, at the owner’s expense, a bicycle, vehicle, cargo, or other
personal property that is determined to be parked or standing on a street in a manner that would
block, delay, or otherwise interfere with the movement of a streetcar on a streetcar track. A
street railway removing property would first have to obtain authorization from a police officer
or notify a law enforcement agency. The agency or street railway would have to take the
property to the nearest garage, storage facility, or other place of safety and report its location
to the nearest law enforcement agency as soon as practicable. The agency or street railway
removing the items would be liable only for damages or claims arising from an act or omission
amounting to gross negligence in doing so.
Law enforcement agency would mean the Department of State Police, the county
sheriff’s office, the police department of a local unit of government, or the transit police
unit of a public body corporate created pursuant to an interlocal agreement under the
Urban Cooperation Act between a city and an authority under the Metropolitan
Transportation Authorities Act.
MCL 257.42 et seq. and proposed MCL 257.790 to 750.792
The bills would include in the definitions of law enforcement officer and police officer,
respectively, a transit police officer employed by a public body corporate created pursuant to
an interlocal agreement under the Urban Cooperation Act between a city and an authority under
the Metropolitan Transportation Authorities Act. This reference applies only to transit police
of the Detroit Transportation Corporation (DTC), the operator of the Detroit People Mover.
The Detroit People Mover project was initially a project of the Southeastern Michigan
Transportation Authority (SEMTA). In 1985, DTC was organized to oversee completion of the
project and to administer ongoing operations of the Detroit People Mover. DTC was organized
through a 1985 interlocal agreement between SEMTA and the city of Detroit under provisions
of the Urban Cooperation Act. The interlocal agreement provided for a six-member board, five
House Fiscal Agency HBs 4540 and 4541 as reported Page 4 of 5
members representing the city of Detroit and one member from SEMTA. The board currently
consists of five members representing the city and one member representing SMART. DTC is
considered a component unit of the city of Detroit for financial reporting purposes. Presently,
the bills do not apply to any entities other than the DTC transit police.
DTC transit police also provide security for the private nonprofit M-1Rail/Q-Line through
contractual agreement. M-1 Rail is private nonprofit street railway that operates the Q-Line
streetcar in Detroit under the Recodified Tax Increment Financing Act.
As introduced, the bills are similar to House Bills 5368 and 5369 of the 2019-20 legislative
session. Those bills were passed by the House of Representatives and were reported from the
Senate Judiciary and Public Safety committee.
House Bill 4540 would not have a significant fiscal impact on the Department of State Police
or on other units of state or local government. There may be an ancillary impact from potential
increases in statewide training costs or for benefit payments under the Public Safety Officers
Benefit Program. The latter would apply if there were more instances of officers being killed
or permanently disabled in the line of duty (the program provides a $25,000 payment if an
officer is killed or permanently and totally disabled in the line of duty). These ancillary impacts
are contingent on a variety of factors and may or may not be incurred.
House Bill 4541 would have no apparent fiscal impact on state or local government.
Representatives of the following entities testified in support of the bills (4-15-21):
• M-1 Rail
• Detroit Transit Police
• Quicken Loans
The following entities indicated support for the bills (4-22-21):
• Michigan Public Transit Association
• City of Detroit
• Detroit Transportation Corporation
• Detroit Police Lieutenants and Sergeants Association
• Detroit Police Officers Association
• Amalgamated Transit Union
Legislative Analysts: Rick Yuille
Emily S. Smith
Fiscal Analysts: William E. Hamilton
■ This analysis was prepared by nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency staff for use by House members in their
deliberations, and does not constitute an official statement of legislative intent.
House Fiscal Agency HBs 4540 and 4541 as reported Page 5 of 5Statutes affected:
House Introduced Bill: 257.42
As Passed by the House: 257.42