Axios Detroit

Picture of the Detroit skyline.

It's Tuesday. Thanks for joining us!

β˜€οΈ Today's weather: Sunny, with a high approaching 70.

Situational awareness: Former Detroit police chief James Craig and four other GOP candidates for governor have not filed enough valid petition signatures to make the August primary ballot, the Detroit Free Press reports.

  • The Bureau of Elections cited widespread forgery of signatures in making the announcement late yesterday.

Today's newsletter is 795 words β€” a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: All aboard the (electric) bus

One of Detroit's new electric buses, right, alongside a bus from 1968.
A new electric bus, right, alongside a bus from 1968. Photos: Joe Guillen/Axios

Detroit's first batch of electric buses went into service yesterday.

Why it matters: The electric bus pilot program is part of an effort to transition entirely to an alternative-fuel fleet by 2045.

  • A hydrogen-vehicle pilot also is in the works, executive transit director Mikel Oglesby said at a press conference.

Driving the news: The city unveiled four electric buses yesterday, folding them into routes along Woodward and Mack avenues. The buses will change routes daily so that officials can measure their performance in different areas.

What they're saying: "Bringing electric buses to the city of Detroit is good for all residents, whether they ride the bus or not," Oglesby said.

Yes, but: The new buses do not directly address the system's reliability issues. The on-time performance rate last month on weekdays was just 63%.

  • "This is one piece of a lot of things DDOT's trying to do to improve service. Is it enough? I don't know," Megan Owens, executive director of Transportation Riders United, tells Axios.
  • "They're still like 60 drivers short and still have a problem with buses not showing up when people are expecting them."

By the numbers: The base price for an electric bus is about $800,000. Detroit's Proterra buses, bought with a federal grant, cost about $1 million each.

  • The buses are expected to get 200-300 miles per charge with an average monthly maintenance savings of $2,000 each.
  • Diesel buses get about 200 miles per tank.

πŸ’­ Joe's thought bubble: On a short electric bus ride at the launch event, the engine was noticeably quieter than usual. Also absent was the plume of exhaust upon departure.

  • Others on board said the ride felt smoother, but I couldn't tell a major difference in that department.

2. Retro license plate in high demand

Michigan's new Water-Winter Wonderland license plate, right, alongside the Mackinac Bridge plate.
Photos courtesy of the Michigan Secretary of State's office

The new Water-Winter Wonderland license plate is a hit with drivers.

Driving the news: Michigan drivers have ordered an average of 32,017 plates per month since their release in December, according to data provided to Axios.

  • That's more than double the average monthly orders of the last special plate β€” the Mackinac Bridge plate released in 2013.

Of note: The blue Wonderland plate was first used in 1965.

Data: Michigan Department of State; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

3. The Grapevine: You heard it here

Illustration of a retro microphone. Some of the slits have been replaced with "The Grapevine."
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

πŸ’³ Meijer is urging customers to check their bank statements because some debit and credit customers were charged twice over the weekend. (ClickonDetroit)

πŸ’¬ A local news site is hosting town halls to learn more about what issues residents want to see covered in the media. (BridgeDetroit)

🐾 An elderly anteater living at the Detroit Zoo β€” the oldest living one at a nationally accredited zoo β€” died yesterday. (WXYZ)

πŸ›³οΈ A huge cruise ship that recently stopped in Detroit anchored at a cargo port instead of the city's downtown dock because the latter is just too small. Cruise ship traffic will pick up this summer, but it could see more with a bigger dock downtown. (Detroit News)

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4. Funding still needed for Right to Counsel effort

Council President Mary Sheffield smiles while speaking at a lecturn.
Detroit City Council President Mary Sheffield. Photo courtesy of Rocket Central

Despite a hefty donation and pandemic funding, future money is still needed to secure legal representation for Detroit residents facing eviction.

Driving the news: The Gilbert Family Foundation is giving $13 million over the next three years to provide legal representation, which statistically makes tenants less likely to be evicted.

  • This adds to the $6 million in federal pandemic funding that City Council approved with its "Right to Counsel" ordinance for renters fighting evictions.

Yes, but: The ordinance doesn't sustain itself financially, as the city needs $16.7 million annually for eviction protection, per advocates.

What's next: City Council President Mary Sheffield, who sponsored the ordinance, said she is looking at philanthropic sources and other funding options.

  • One is revisiting a contentious debate that came up in the approval process β€” whether Detroit can pay for "Right to Counsel" out of its own coffers.
  • Acting top lawyer Chuck Raimi called the initiative dangerous and unlawful in March, but Sheffield says the new top lawyer, Conrad Mallet, seems more "open and supportive" and "has some ideas" like pushing for state law changes that allow for more funding flexibility.

5. πŸ‘” Thrifting is the new normal

Data: GlobalData; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Buying secondhand is no longer an afterthought, Hope King writes in Axios Closer.

Driving the news: 93% of U.S. shoppers have or are open to buying secondhand products, according to a new report from resale platform ThredUP.

  • That's up from 70% in 2019.

Details: Nearly two in three people now believe their individual buying habits have a significant impact on the planet, according to a survey of 3,500 U.S. adults.

πŸ’­ Annalise's thought bubble: There's not many feelings better than nabbing the perfect safari-themed vest or owl-emblazoned vest (I like vests) off the rack of a thrift store. Here's a couple vintage and resale shops to check out:

Our picks:

πŸ¦‰ Joe is not a thrifter but would definitely add a used owl vest to his wardrobe.

🎡 Annalise is obsessed all over again with Janelle MonÑe's 2018 album Dirty Computer.