DDOT Detroit Department of Transportation

A silver line bus in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
John Rothwell / Flickr - http://j.mp/1SPGCl0

When the biggest public transit provider in Grand Rapids raised fares from $1.50 to $1.75 last October, it predicted ridership would fall as a result.  Buses in Grand Rapids are indeed emptier, but not to the degree many expected, and in some cases, no more than they are at other Michigan agencies that left fares untouched. This was the first fare increase in Grand Rapids since 2008.

The Rapid experienced a 4.9% decrease in bus ridership when comparing March 2016 with March 2015, the most recent data available.

A DDOT bus in Detroit.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit is tweaking bus service again as the city plugs away at revamping its notoriously bad transit system.

The latest changes kick in this coming weekend.

They include schedule modifications, some additional trips and other adjustments across eight bus routes, to “increase reliability” and “alleviate crowding.”

Matt Picio / Flickr

For years, we've been hearing about a public transportation system that would connect downtown Detroit with three areas: Ann Arbor, Pontiac and Mount Clemens. 

Now, at a kickoff rally in Detroit today, officials announced they'll have those plans ready to go in November, in time to get them on the 2016 ballot.  

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan planned to have a lot more buses on the streets by this point. There’s been progress in some areas: more buses, better maintenance. But the bus system is still not reaching its goals.

Dwight Burdette / Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding the city of Detroit $26 million to buy 50 new buses. 

Long wait times and broken-down buses have been a problem in the city, as it's struggled to keep its aging fleet in working order. 

"Like any good triage, you've got to tackle the biggest things first," Megan Owens said. Owens is executive director of Transportation Riders United, a non-profit that aims to improve public transportation in downtown Detroit. "The biggest things are having enough working buses, and having enough people to drive them." 

User / flickr

Detroit is installing surveillance cameras on city buses.

Recent months have seen an increase in fighting and harassment on Detroit Department of Transportation buses, sparking a reaction from city officials and the police department.

A unit of undercover police officers is now riding some of DDOT's more problematic bus lines, according to Elvin Barren, commander of the Detroit Police Department's Organized Crimes Division.

He calls the new surveillance cameras a positive development in making Detroit's buses safer.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Detroit leaders are promising better service for the city’s more than 100,000 regular bus riders.

Officials phased in what they’re calling the "415 plan" this past weekend.

It promises service every fifteen minutes along the city’s four busiest bus routes during peak riding hours (6 am-6 pm).

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing turned bus management over to a private firm, Parsons Brinckerhoff, earlier this year. He credits them with improving service.

“I think the outside management team has worked very, very well with our employees," said Bing, speaking Monday during his first day back from more than a month-long battle with health problems. "They’re listening to each other, they’re good ideas being brought to the table, and the implementation plan is moving forward.”

But the four-fifteen initiative comes on the heels of cutbacks to other city bus routes, and the elimination of overnight service.

And while timely service has improved, city officials admit it’s still a long way from where it needs to be.

“It should be 90-95% [on-time]," said Detroit Department of Transportation CEO Ron Freeland. "Especially when you consider that most of our customers are going to use more than one bus line.”

In a report released just last week, the transit advocacy group Transportation Riders United gave Detroit’s bus system a “D-minus” grade—with only 63% of buses arriving on-time.