Oct 3, 2022 - News

Exploring public transit in the Motor City

Illustration of various types of wheels on a grid pattern

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Underfunded, disconnected and unreliable — terms commonly used to describe a public transit system that must improve for Detroit to properly serve residents.

Driving the news: Axios Detroit is kicking off a transit feature digging into the many relevant issues facing users, government officials and taxpayers.

Why it matters: As the city strives to add population and improve services in neighborhoods where some residents feel left out of the recent revitalization, a robust and reliable transit system is crucial for Detroit to realize its full potential.

State of play: Transit possibilities are bountiful — affordable options include buses, bike-share services, the QLINE, the People Mover and scooters.

Yes, but: The patchwork of transit modes is not anywhere close to integrated.

  • Public signage assisting users is underwhelming.
  • And perhaps most crucially, reliability of the city's bus system remains inconsistent.
  • City buses' on-time weekday performance has dropped steadily this year, from 75% in January to 60% in July, the most recent month with available data. City officials say performance declined after it tightened standards in March, and service changes will be in place early next year.

What they're saying: "It ain't tight like it should be," Willie Kendrick, 81, who rides a bus almost daily, tells Axios. "It should run better."

Between the lines: Possible solutions are on the horizon.

  • Voters in Oakland, Macomb and parts of Wayne County will see transit funding proposals on the Nov. 8 ballot that advocates say are crucial for more complete service.
  • Major projects with corporate investment are underway, such as Ford's Michigan Central mobility campus in Corktown.
  • The city's transportation department is releasing a final report next year on DDOT Reimagined, an information-gathering project to modernize the system.

📬 We want to know: How do you use public transit? What are the highlights and lowlights of your experiences? What should transit leaders prioritize?


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