Coming Soon: the Detroit Bus Company’s Newest Transit Innovations

2/20/13Follow @XconomyDET

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reliable, awesome service, they might find a way to make it permanent,” he points out. Talks are currently underway with Quicken Loans and Didorosi is running an online survey to determine a price point and see which cities are home to the most potential riders.

Didorosi is also in the process of surveying riders in the western Wayne County suburbs of Canton, Plymouth, and Northville for a potential on-demand service. These communities have chosen to opt-out of SMART’s service, leaving residents who are dependent on public transit without a way to get to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, school, and work. Didorsi calls this the least developed of his future initatives, but one of the most important transportation gaps to bridge.

But to me, and to almost every Detroit resident who travels, the most important initiative Didorosi is working on is bus service between Detroit and its suburbs and Detroit Metro Airport, which is located about 20 minutes outside the city in Romulus, MI. It absolutely defies logic that there isn’t currently an efficient way to take public transportation to get to the airport from Detroit. (Technically, you could embark on a multi-hour, multi-transfer odyssey using SMART buses to get there, but come on, nobody has time for that.) Even Lansing, Jackson, and Ann Arbor residents can hop on the popular Michigan Flyer to get to the airport, but Detroiters are stuck begging friends for rides or paying $50 each way for a taxi.

Didorosi says that the newly established Regional Transit Authority has deemed a sensible bus route between the airport and metro Detroit a priority, but Didorosi expects the wheels of bureaucracy to grind so slowly that it could be years before that happens. Plus, because Metro Cars has the contract to provide ground transportation at the airport, any competing services are required to pay a fee every time they enter the airport property, which raises fares. “Metro Cars has a monopoly on land side transit, and that’s fine—they paid their way in to make that happen,” Didorosi says. “But in other cities, there’s usually a public transit component to go along with it.”

There is a way around the Metro Car monopoly, and it involves a public-private partnership where the Detroit Bus Company would hook up with a municipality, as Indian Trails did with the Ann Arbor Transit Authority for the Michigan Flyer service. Didorosi says he has a number of potential partners in downtown that are interested … Next Page »

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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