How to Ride the Bus

How do I Ride a Bus in Greater Detroit?
A Primer for New Riders

As Detroit’s transit advocate, TRU works to improve and promote public transit through greater Detroit.  Here’s what you need to know to ride the bus.

1) Figure out what route will take you to your destination.

Visit www.Google.com/transit – Enter your starting and ending locations and when you need to depart or arrive, and it will map out a variety of route and schedule options.

Or try the Transit App, which can show you transit (and bike and scooter) routes near your current location, can provide you transit directions based on the starting and ending locations you enter, and can even walk you through your entire trip, step by step.

For routes within Detroit, use DDOT (the Detroit Department of Transportation):

  • Visit www.DetroitMi.gov/DDOT
  • Call 313-933-1300.
  • Or pick up system maps, route maps and schedules from their main office at 1301 E. Warren (just east of I-75)
    • Or at the Rosa Parks Transit Center at Michigan and Cass in downtown Detroit.

For suburb-to-suburb or suburb-to-city routes, use SMART:

  • Visit www.SMARTbus.org for a full system map, route maps and schedules.
  • You can also call SMART toll-free at 866-962-5515 during regular business hours.
  • SMART bus maps may be picked up at their office in the lobby of the Buhl Building (535 Griswold in downtown Detroit).

2) Go to the bus stop along your route

Most DDOT buses pick up at any marked bus stop.

For FAST and other SMART express buses, make sure the schedule lists that stop.

If you need to drive to a bus stop (for example if you live outside of the SMART service area), parking is often available at mall stops and designated Park&Ride lots.

Arrive 3-5 minutes prior to the scheduled bus arrival.

You can also use the Transit App or SMART’s own App to check the real-time location of your bus, but note that these are not always accurate, as both transit systems are upgrading their tracking technology.

3) To board the bus:

  • Identify the bus you want – the bus route number and name is displayed above the windshield.
    • DDOT buses are white with green and yellow and use two-digit route numbers.
    • SMART buses are white with red and orange and use three-digit route numbers.
  • Wave at the bus (like hailing a taxi) to ensure the driver sees you.
  • As you step onto the bus, you can ask the bus driver to confirm that they go to your destination, if you’re unclear and want to confirm.
  • Pay the fare with exact change, if possible. The fare box accepts bills and coins like a vending machine.
    • One-way adult fare for DDOT is currently $1.50 and for most SMART routes is $2.00.  SMART Park & Ride routes cost $2.50.
    • To transfer between buses, pay 25-cents when you board your first bus and request a transfer from the driver. Transfers from either system are usable on both, but costs an extra $.50 if transferring from DDOT onto SMART.

4) Take a seat and enjoy your ride.

Note the front seats are for seniors, people with disabilities or parents with infant children.

You can use your ride to read, do work, listen to music or podcasts with headphones, talk to people around you, or just relax and watch your surroundings. 

5) To depart the bus:

Signal for your stop when approximately one block away. Pull the cord along the windows so that the bell rings and the “stop requested” sign lights up.

You can ask the driver to point out where to catch the return bus.

Also:

If you ride regularly, buy monthly or pre-paid passes – they can save money and are easier to carry.

If you have any concerns, notice any problems, or have any ideas or suggestions, call SMART (866-962-5515) or DDOT (313-933-1300) to comment or complain. Comments from bus riders help management correct problems and improve service.