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Riding the Bus in SW

I recently took a round-trip bus ride from Corktown to Southwest Detroit for dinner, and my experience left a lot to be desired.

Photo of Lisa Shaw
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Michigan Central Station

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I picked up the bus in Corktown, near the intersection of Bagley and Vermont. I saw the bus approaching right as I reached the bus stop, so luckily there was no wait time. The bus itself was great! Very clean, a nice cool temperature on a hot day, friendly driver, and my bus pass worked swimmingly. I rode for about 10 minutes into SW Detroit and got dropped off about a 10 minute walk to the restaurant I was having dinner at. I didn't mind the walk, because I feel 10 minutes is a reasonable distance from bus stop to destination. The bigger issue was catching the bus after dinner. By that time it was nearly 8:30, and the buses were running with far less frequency. I waited at the bus stop I had been dropped off at hours before, but there was no bus in sight. I decided to walk to the next stop along my route home. I made the walk, and found that it was really difficult to notice street bus stop signs. They are quite small, have no route numbers, and give absolutely no information about the bus that stops there. After waiting a full 40 minutes (10 minutes after the scheduled arrival time, per Google), my return bus finally showed up. Once again, the actual experience of riding the bus was enjoyable (although I did try the advertised free wifi, and it was not in working order), but the frequency of the routes and lack of easily accessible information makes it very difficult. I wouldn't feel comfortable taking the bus if I had serious time commitments.

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Photo of David Gifford

There has been some talk about how to turn Detroit into a 24-hr economy. Reliable frequent transit is one of the keys to doing this. Yes, it is great that there are twelve 24-hr routes now but most have 1 hour frequency during the evening hours which isn't helpful or feel safe when you are waiting at a sign only stop. In addition to increased frequency, we need better, well lit shelters & better signs with way finding info.

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