Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In

D-Day Approaches for Detroit Transit Riders

As the recession squeezes the pocketbooks of the nation's cities, Detroit has become an unfortunate symbol of urban decline -- so much so that Time Warner recently bought a house there for reporters to use while covering the locals' struggle for financial survival.

bilde.jpgDetroit buses like this one carried an estimated 38 million riders last year. (Photo:

The latest troubling news out of the auto industry's city of dashed dreams: Cutbacks in bus service are slated for release on Thursday to help close a $300 million budget gap, putting transit-dependent residents on edge.

Widespread protests helped kill an initial proposal that would have ended weekend at 6 p.m. on Saturdays and forced layoffs of 113 transit workers, but this week's cuts are still guaranteed to sting for the 24,000-plus Detroit workers who do not own cars:

The bus proposal, listed on the city transportation Web site, calls forservice to stop before midnight and wait times to increase on at leasta dozen routes. Some routes may lose 24-hour service. ...

Robin Boyle, professor of urban planning at Wayne State University,said he understands Bing's dilemma, but sees bus transportation forDetroiters as absolutely vital.

"Obviously the mayor is in avery difficult situation; he has to find ways to restructure his budgetwhile maintaining the core services," Boyle said.

"Many arguethat the core services are mainly police, fire and trash collection,but ... for a significant portion of the population, access to busservice is a fundamental service and is the only convenient andaffordable way to move across the city."

Transit cuts are an especially unwelcome sight in Detroit, which has a poverty rate higher than any other large U.S. city, but transportation funding problems are proliferating across the state of Michigan.

Road and bridge repairs totaling $740 million had to be canceled in June when the state couldn't muster funds to match the federal contribution. The bus network that services Detroit's suburbs is also facing budget troubles, even as it wins millions of dollars from Washington that are reserved for new buses.

One solution, outlined by the Michigan Transportation Funding Task Force and hailed by the Detroit Free Press editorial board, would replace the state's flat gas tax with a proportional one and enhance regional cooperation among transportation planners.

That focus on greater regional empowerment was echoed last week by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood; still, it looks like reform may not come soon enough for Detroit bus riders.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Friday’s Headlines Got Served

Another day, another GOP lawsuit trying to overturn a Biden administration climate change rule.

April 19, 2024

Disabled People Are Dying in America’s Crosswalks — But We’re Not Counting Them

The data on traffic fatalities and injuries doesn’t account for their needs or even count them. Better data would enable better solutions.

April 19, 2024

LA: Automated Enforcement Coming Soon to a Bus Lane Near You

Metro is already installing on-bus cameras. Soon comes testing, outreach, then warning tickets. Wilshire/5th/6th and La Brea will be the first bus routes in the bus lane enforcement program.

April 18, 2024

Talking Headways Podcast: Charging Up Transportation

This week, we talk to the great Gabe Klein, executive director of President Biden's Joint Office of Energy and Transportation (and a former Streetsblog board member), about curbside electrification.

April 18, 2024

Why Does the Vision Zero Movement Stop At the Edge of the Road?

U.S. car crash deaths are nearly 10 percent higher if you count collisions that happen just outside the right of way. So why don't off-road deaths get more air time among advocates?

April 18, 2024
See all posts