18 by ’18: Sustaining Our Fight for Transit


When a handful of dedicated bus riders and veteran transit activists came together to found the Motor City Freedom Riders in the summer of 2014, we didn’t have any paid staff members, T-shirts, or big grants from foundations. Actually, we didn’t have any money…other than bus fare, of course.

What we did have was a burning commitment to work for expanded public transit—“transportation freedom”—in metro Detroit, and a knowledge that the old strategies weren’t working.

We couldn’t count on politicians to move transit forward. We, the bus riders, and our allies around the region, had to lead the work for transit through grassroots organizing and advocacy. To win freedom of movement, we had to build a movement ourselves.

We’ve come a long way over the past 3 years. We successfully petitioned for the City of Detroit to make DDOT accountable for improving reliability by making bus performance information public. We took on the Oakland and Macomb County administrations to get a regional transit proposal on the ballot, and did our darnedest to get voters to the polls to support it. Since the very narrow defeat of the proposal last November, we’ve been building our strength to push the County Executives and Detroit Mayor to put a revised transit plan back on the ballot next year.

This is a critical time. If we don’t get transit back on the ballot in 2018, we’ll need to wait till 2020 to have another serious shot at expanding public transit in metro Detroit. We have to dramatically expand our work over the coming year to make sure that transit makes it onto the ballot, and wins.

And to do that, we need your help.

We’re a membership organization that relies on the work of our volunteer members. Over the past year we’ve been lucky to have Mason Herson-Hord as our part-time staff Organizer, thanks mostly to a generous grant from the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation.  To sustain our work into the future, we also need to raise more of our own money.

So we’re kicking off the first-ever Motor City Freedom Riders fundraising campaign, 18 by ’18. Our goal is raising $18,000 by the beginning of 2018. That’s a lot, but with your help, we think we can do it. Raising that amount will put us in a position to sustain and expand our work in the coming year: growing power in Detroit and all four counties in the region, and getting transit back on the ballot next year.

Metro Detroit needs a lot of things in order to be a more socially just, prosperous, and sustainable community. But we think expanded public transit needs to be one of our top priorities, and we believe that by building a regional coalition of bus riders and our allies, we can begin to permanently change the politics of our region, moving us away from segregation and inequality towards opportunity and prosperity for all.

We’re grateful for your support in helping us meet our goal! To make an online contribution to the Freedom Riders, scroll up to click the “Donate – Buy Now” link at the top right of this page.

If you prefer, you can also mail a check made out to our fiduciary, MOSES, with Motor City Freedom Riders in the subject line. This can be mailed to:

Motor City Freedom Riders, c/o MOSES

220 Bagley Ave., Suite 212

Detroit, MI 48226

Again, thank you for your support!

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