In February of this year, the Freedom Riders launched a petition to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, asking him to add DDOT bus performance information to his “Detroit Dashboard,” his weekly online progress report on city services. The Mayor had, after all, said that improving bus service was his most important priority, yet the Dashboard contained no information on that front.
Over the coming months, we collected more than 500 signatures on the petition. And, at long last, the Mayor’s Dashboard features DDOT performance information, including both morning and afternoon “pullout,” the number of buses that get out of the garage and onto the road each day.
It’s a small, symbolic step. But it sends a strong message that decent bus service – used mostly by the city’s poorest citizens – is every bit as important as police services, fire protection, and other essential city functions. It also shows the power of what we can do together.
It’s especially good to note that DDOT has been “making pullout” lately, as the green arrows indicate. New buses and new drivers have begun to rejuvenate a department that languished for years, and suffered especially painful cuts under former Mayor Dave Bing.
Of course, there’s a lot more that needs to be done. There’s still less bus service in Detroit than there was ten years ago. Next time, we’ll consider the service changes that DDOT’s planning for January. For now, though, let’s make sure to celebrate this small but significant victory for transit in Detroit. No longer can Detroit’s leaders ignore the needs of bus riders.