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Detroit to start 24-hour service for three major bus routes

Jan 19, 2016

Credit Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

The Detroit Department of Transportation will begin running 24-hour bus service for three of its busiest routes Saturday.

The popular routes are part of more than 15 that will begin adjusted schedules this weekend. The changes are the product of public meetings with riders and aim to improve the system’s efficiency while expanding service.

Neil Greenberg of DDOT said the changes are within budget and that the department is getting "more use out of existing resources."

"Ridership is up,” Greenberg said. “Internally and externally people have had really, really great attitudes and really, really positive things to add to this whole process."

The adjustments are a combination of increased service to some lines with reduced service to others. Greenberg said DDOT is reducing service on routes where ridership is falling to allow for increased services on busier routes.

Greenberg added that the bus system has improved dramatically in recent months, making him confident DDOT will be able to handle the new schedule. According to the department’s website, ridership for 2015 was up eight percent from 2014.

He said before early last year the department struggled to meet its goal for pullout rates (the percentage of buses that made it to their route). Pullout rates reached 100% for morning routes in November, according to the department, and were close to 100%  in September and October.

Joel Batterman, coordinator for the Motor City Freedom Riders, said the 24-hour routes will be a major help for people commuting to work. Still, Batterman said there is more work to do.

“The DDOT service changes that are set for this weekend are really just a drop in the bucket,” he said.

Batterman said he recognizes that the department is in a difficult financial situation and is calling for better leadership on the political level.

Greenberg said DDOT is working on other improvement projects for the bus system, including a safety evaluation of bus stops across the city.

The routes starting 24-hour service are No. 53 Woodward, No. 34 Gratiot, and No. 21 Grand River.