The Motor City’s New Transportation Plan is a Breath of Fresh Air

Photo:  Detroit/Bloomberg Associates
Photo: Detroit/Bloomberg Associates

The Motor City might have to change its nickname.

Detroit’s new five-year transportation plan [PDF] calls for a network of protected bike lanes on the city’s wide streets, intersection signals that give more time to pedestrians, and traffic calming measures such as speed bumps in residential areas and school zones

“The goal isn’t just to deliver better projects, but to build a better city, one where Detroiters’ opportunities are not limited by their choices for getting around,” Janette Sadik-Khan, the former NYC DOT Commissioner who created the plan with Bloomberg Associates, told Curbed.

Getting around has long been a problem in the city built for — and by — the automobile.

Detroit has the highest pedestrian death rate of U.S. large cities, the Detroit Free Press reported, and its transit system is, arguably, the worst of any major city in the country (though voters get some of the blame there, narrowly defeating a ballot measure in 2016 that would have greatly expanded transit across the region).

Buses are a key part of the plan; the city’s stated goal is to increase ridership 25 percent through basic service improvements such as increased service on the 10 busiest lines, 50 new bus shelters, off-board fare payment, bike patrols for transit police along major bus routes. and, by 2021, giving riders real-time travel information. The city may also experiment with temporary bus boarding islands, like those in New York and Oakland.

The plan also calls for boosting City Hall’s investment in road repair, expanding the city’s MoGo bike share system, programming signals to ease traffic, planting 3,300 new trees, and increasing participating in a program that allows low-income residents to ride transit for $5 per year.

Mayor Mike Duggan and Sadik-Khan also hope reforms such as better management of car parking and the creation of more walkable streets will revive retail in Detroit — where most residents shop “in nearby suburbs,” the report noted.

  • J

    This is generally good stuff. My only complaint is that 15 minute headways still suck, and if you have 1 transfer (which most people will), your wait time averages out to 15 minutes. That’s a long time to wait, and that’s if you are taking two of the ten high-demand routes in the city. If one of your bus routes is not a high demand route, your wait time is much higher.

    I think the Montreal approach of 10 min max is far easier to comprehend and provides more useful service across more of the city.
    http://www.stm.info/en/info/networks/bus/local/10-minutes-max

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/43b40da012cfdafe9eedf5b6ebd07ae8f881f679f7220cb6e9f583e584d24d61.png

  • Edward

    Just a mathematical note: If buses are randomly arriving with an average of fifteen minutes between buses and there is no synchronization of buses, your average wait time is 15/2 or 7.5 minutes. Buses can do better if some attempt is made to synchronize connections.

  • Stuart

    It seems like you’re computing the wait time of just the connection. With one transfer you have to wait for the first bus, then the second bus.

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