Oct 18, 2022 - News

Advocates question Detroit paratransit contracts

Public commenters sit in chairs waiting to speak at City Council's committee meeting Monday.

Public commenters wait to speak at City Council's public health and safety committee meeting yesterday. Photo: Annalise Frank/Axios

The Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT) says it will deliver on its promise of improving service for residents with disabilities, despite continuing to work with highly criticized contractor Transdev.

Driving the news: Users of Detroit's federally mandated paratransit service have called for DDOT to leave Transdev behind, and advocates were originally told DDOT was "removing Transdev," Richard Clay, a board member with the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Michigan, tells Axios.

  • But contracts under the new plan still feature the company.

The latest: Detroit transit executive director Mikel Oglesby summarized DDOT's strategy for City Council members yesterday.

  • The two proposed five-year contracts with Transdev and subcontractors ($49.2 million) and People's Express ($15.9 million) require Council approval.
  • Oglesby said Transdev and People's Express were the only two companies that "made it through" Detroit's request for contract proposals.

What they're saying: The new plan is "not good enough," Stephen Handschu, a committee head for NFB Detroit, tells Axios.

  • "We still don't know what the hell this is, really. Whether (the city is) taking over totally, fully, all-controlling," Clay told Axios after yesterday's meeting.
  • For example, it appears Transdev would still handle employee training, which advocates say has been inadequate in the past.

Between the lines: DDOT says it's delivering on its promise to fix performance concerns by bringing management — including customer service, ride scheduling, eligibility and contractor oversight — in-house.

  • "I can assure you … what the people wanted is going to happen," Oglesby said. "The word 'Transdev' is concerning to a lot of people, but the function is different."

What's next: City Council plans to discuss the contracts in committee Monday.


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