Eastern Market is one of the largest historic public market districts in the United States with year round access to fresh produce and other products often provided by local small businesses. The market is frequented by people of all backgrounds coming to the market for a different need. Since many of the vendors accept EBT/Food Stamps, Eastern Market is central in providing access to affordable and healthy foods. This is especially important considering that many Detroiters lack access to affordable, healthy produce.
However, transportation to Eastern Market is a huge barrier for many Detroiters without a vehicle. According to a recent University of Michigan transportation study, nearly 40% of Detroiters don’t own or lease a vehicle and are dependent on alternative forms of transportation. While the market is only 3 miles from Michigan Central Station (an 8 minute drive), there is no direct public transportation option that connects the impact area with Eastern Market. The current public transportation option takes 38 minutes including a bus transfer and a 13 minute walk to access Eastern Market from the Michigan Central Station (assuming no delays with buses). Our contribution would be to connect Corktown residents with Eastern Market with direct weekend year-round shuttle service from Michigan Central Station. Depending on demand, this solution could be scaled to provide additional service to other retail centers around the Detroit area (such as Fairlane Mall in Dearborn) that are difficult for Detroiters without vehicles to access.
Our contribution includes a bus shuttle between Michigan Central Station and Eastern Market every 30 minutes on Saturdays and Sundays (when in season) from 9:00am until 3:00pm. If there’s demand, an additional weekend shuttle could be used to connect Corktown and Fairlane Mall to build connections with larger retailers currently inaccessible to much of the population..
This solution provides Ford with a simple and actionable way help Detroiters in the impact area access fresh groceries, support local businesses, and have overall greater mobility. Given the relative simplicity of the routes, this service could also eventually become a pilot project for Ford to highlight its autonomous and electric vehicle offerings.