Jun 14, 2023 - News

City in time crunch over revamped paratransit system

Illustration of a transit map marked with scribbles.

Photo Illustration: Lindsey Bailey/Axios. Map: Detroit Department of Transportation

The city is in a time crunch to solidify its revamped paratransit system.

Driving the news: Six-month emergency paratransit contracts that Mayor Mike Duggan greenlighted starting in January expire at the end of this month.

  • The city is working to put longer-term contracts in place for the next five years to provide federally mandated rides for older people and people with disabilities. It submitted two contracts to City Council this week and others are being finalized.
  • "We've heard all the concerns about the timeline. We've been working as hard as possible," city chief procurement officer Sandra Stahl told a council committee Monday.

Catch up quick: After City Council turned down a proposal that continued to involve previous provider Transdev, despite many complaints against the company, Duggan used emergency contracting powers to avoid a halt in service.

The latest: Mikel Oglesby, executive director of transit, told the council Monday that "the service is drastically improved" with the city managing the process instead of Transdev.

  • While drivers for this temporary time frame were on time 94.7% of the time on average between Jan. 1 and May 27, that figure rose to meet the city's target of 97% in March, April and May.
  • Transdev's rate last year was 85%, per the Free Press.
  • The Detroit Department of Transportation also plans to implement driver training for disability awareness and sensitivity in response to concerns, paratransit manager Michael Staley told City Council.

What they're saying: Advocates including Lisa Franklin of Warriors on Wheels expressed concern during public comment Monday that they're not being kept in the loop on the next, more permanent phase.

What's next: We submitted a Freedom of Information Act request for the two contracts available so far.


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