Detroit Bus Company: Disrupting Old Models in a Transit-Starved City

9/11/12Follow @XconomyDET

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Jalopnik, the Gawker Media site devoted to automotive news. (Didorosi still freelances for Popular Mechanics, Hell for Leather, and other niche publications as a way to raise capital for the Detroit Bus Company.)

Didorosi represents the new brand of Detroit entrepreneur frustrated with a city government that doesn’t always seem eager to partner with them, and sometimes even seems to throw up bureaucratic roadblocks just because it can. What he sees himself doing with the Detroit Bus Company most of all, perhaps, is disrupting an old model of doing things that seems to hold progress at bay and frustrate residents and business owners alike.

“The city should be a lubricant instead of a hindrance,” Didorosi adds. “There are real structural issues behind why people don’t do businesses with the city. It’s just upside down. There’s demand, there’s people, but the last thing in the way is the city itself.”

As Lanzon swings the bus back around and heads toward the suburbs to drop off the passengers who hopped on downtown, Didorosi chats with the riders and passes them his phone so they can see pictures of an accident that occurred a few weeks ago when a drunk driver slammed into one of the buses. (Thankfully, nobody was hurt, and Didorosi says the bus was built so solidly that riders barely felt it.) He asks one rider, Michelle, who’s on board for the second time, how she’s liked her Detroit Bus Company experience so far.

“It’s great!” she says. “People need a viable way to get to Detroit. We’re all about it, and we’ve been telling all our friends.”

As Bettis pulls up to the drop-off point in Royal Oak, Didorosi says that he plans to grow the company by continuing to court his prime demographic: Digitally aware early adopters who are interested in Detroit. Our conversation is interrupted by the newest rider bounding onto to the bus.

“We’re tired of the suburbs,” she shouts with a tipsy grin. “Take me home!”

Sarah Schmid is the editor of Xconomy Detroit. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET

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