Detroit busses DDOT

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." 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

This week the Detroit Journalism Cooperative is looking at how the city is functioning under bankruptcy. Mayor Mike Duggan suggested he’d get a lot done in six months. We’re nearly there and took a look at progress with mass transportation in Detroit.

One out of every three Detroit households doesn’t have a car. They rely on the bus system. But it’s broken.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

As state lawmakers look to boost investment in Michigan's roads, transit advocates are calling on Lansing not to forget the state’s public transportation systems.

House Speaker Jase Bolger has proposed legislation that would reconfigure gas taxes and add other measures to raise about $450 million a year for road repairs. On Tuesday, Senate Majority leader Randy Richardville said he wants to triple that amount to about $1.5 billion.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Detroit buses are being outfitted with new security cameras.

Mayor Mike Duggan says the intent is to deter crime against passengers and drivers.

“For far too long, our drivers have not been safe driving the buses. And at times our passengers have not been safe riding the buses,” says Duggan.

Duggan says city bus drivers particularly don’t deserve some of the treatment they’ve been getting.

Detroit cancels bus runs Monday, cites `sick out'

Oct 20, 2013
Sarah Hulett

Operators of Detroit's public buses say riders may have to find another way to get around Monday because of what officials say is a threatened "sick-out" protest by unionized drivers.

The union says it isn't behind the job action and can't do anything if drivers call in sick.

A recording on the Detroit Department of Transportation's phone line Sunday evening says that the union has "scheduled a sick out Monday" and "bus service will not be in operation."

A DDOT bus in Detroit. People have been talking about the need for a regional transit authority for many years.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

DETROIT (AP) — Bus drivers in Detroit want better security after they say at least eight drivers were hospitalized after attacks by riders in the past nine months.

Fred Westbrook, president of Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26, tells the Detroit Free Press that Tuesday's rally also was organized to let riders know that drivers are frustrated about crowded buses, buses running late and a lack of police protection.

Ideas for improving security include creating a transit police for the Detroit Department of Transportation. Another rally is planned for October.

Officer Dan Donakowski tells The Detroit News that police met Monday with DDOT representatives and offered training to drivers. He says drivers also plan to provide police with information about routes where assaults have taken place so police can step up efforts.

A rift over transit money is once again dividing Detroit from its suburban neighbors.

The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments voted Friday to shift money from Detroit’s bus system to a suburban line.

SEMCOG has temporary oversight of federal transit funds for capital investment while the new southeast Michigan Regional Transit Authority gets up and running.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

A vote this Friday could determine how federal transit money is split between Detroit and its suburbs—and Detroit officials aren’t at all happy with what’s being proposed.

Right now, that federal money is divided based on ridership. So the Detroit Department of Transportation gets about 65% of the funding, while the suburban system—known as SMART—gets 35%.

Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Transit advocates in southeast Michigan heralded the start of a “new era in public transportation," as a Regional Transit Authority’s board met for the first time Wednesday.

The RTA board consists of representatives from Wayne, Macomb, Oakland, and Washtenaw counties, and the city of Detroit.

Its mission is to coordinate the region’s historically fragmented transit agencies--and pave the way for truly regional rapid transit.

Warriors on Wheels of Metropolitan Detroit

An advocate for the disabled will represent Detroit on a new regional transit authority board.

Mayor Dave Bing announced his selection of Lisa Franklin during his state of the city address last week.

Franklin is the President of Warriors on Wheels. That group has built expertise and credibility as they’ve fought to draw attention to systemic dysfunction in Detroit’s transit system, particularly for the disabled.

Franklin said she’s genuinely excited about her appointment. She believes the authority’s first overarching task is to outline a unified vision for mass transit in Metro Detroit.

“Personally, I would like for us to all sit down and figure out what we want. The best possible service that we can have,” Franklin said. “And then from that point we need to figure out how to connect all of the dots, and then figure out how much it will cost and how we can pay for it.”

Franklin also brings her perspective as a Detroiter who relies on transit. She said one of her main concerns will be how to build a functional and unified public transit system overburdening the low-income people who rely on transit the most.

“I’m hoping that we can connect all of the counties, so that people can go to work, go to doctor’s appointments, without any limitations,” Franklin said.

Governor Snyder just signed Regional Transit Authority was signed into law just last December, and likely won’t start meeting for several more months.

It joins representatives from Wayne, Washtenaw, Oakland and Macomb counties and the city of Detroit to coordinate Metro Detroit’s historically fragmented public transit systems.

The authority likely won’t get rolling until later this year. Besides Detroit, only Washtenaw county has appointed representatives. Once the full board is seated, they’ll need to pick a director.

The U.S. Department of Transportation had withheld millions to build up Detroit area transit--including a proposed bus rapid transit (BRT) line--until an RTA was formed.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was in Detroit for the tenth time Monday to talk about the region’s mass transit future.

LaHood met with Governor Snyder, Mayor Dave Bing, and state lawmakers, and again made clear that the federal government is willing to put money into a regional transportation authority (RTA) for Detroit.

But Lansing hasn’t acted on bills to create an RTA to run that system.

A DDOT bus in Detroit. People have been talking about the need for a regional transit authority for many years.
Sarah Hulett / Michigan Radio

Governor Rick Snyder discussed all kinds of issues during an online townhall meeting today. People participated in the town hall online and remotely from Traverse City, Grand Rapids and Detroit.

“My question is what can be done about the horrible transportation situation in the City of Detroit?” Shelia Foreman asked Snyder from Wayne State University’s TechTown. “I have had relatives lose their jobs because they cannot get to them. Do you have a solution for that?”

The Detroit News reports Andy Didorosi is set to open the Detroit Bus Co., a private company with three full-size school buses.

The 25-year-old Ferndale resident says he's invested $10,000, and insurance will cost another $10,000 per bus per year. His plan comes as frustrations linger over city buses running late or not at all.

Didorosi's first bus will launch the last week of April, and the other two will follow.

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 26 President Henry Gaffney says city service could be better, but he's not a fan of a private citizen tackling the issue. Gaffney says Didorosi doesn't really know what he's doing.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

The Rapid busses start a new schedule Monday that will better serve riders late at night, on the weekends, and more frequently during the workday. The bus service is improving thanks to a millage voters passed back in May.

Update 3:12PM

Today's Detroit bus shutdown has come to resolution.

From the Associated Press:

Officials say drivers have ended a work stoppage and public buses resumed running following an announcement that Detroit police officers will randomly stop and board city buses in some high-problem areas.

Mayor Dave Bing released the plan at a press conference Friday.