Save Our Service: New TRU Report Spotlights Bus Crisis, Demands Regional Leaders Get Involved!

Today, TRU released a new report spotlighting the ongoing crisis of sparce and no-show buses that is devastating bus riders throughout the region. SMART and DDOT are both running 20-30% less service than pre-pandemic and riders still suffer through regular no-show buses, causing them to miss classes, waste money, and even lose jobs. All because bus driver pay is well below what other driving jobs pay.

We call on Mayor Duggan and County Executives Coulter, Evans, and Hackel to each get personally involved in resolving this crisis.

The Detroit region is facing a silent bus crisis of sparce and no-show buses.

SMART and DDOT are running 20-30% less bus service than before the COVID pandemic (which wasn’t robust then!). Most bus agencies around the Midwest have restored most or even all their service.

Despite running less service, every day at least 5-10% of scheduled buses don’t run at all. This is very annoying on routes that only run every 20-30 minutes, but devastating when routes only run once an hour or when it’s the last bus of the night that doesn’t show. 

In a survey of SMART riders, fully half of bus riders said they often experience no-show buses and 1 in 6 experience it “all the time.”

This crisis of sparse and no-show buses has serious impacts on bus riders, most of whom have no alternative but to ride. When buses don’t show, riders miss classes and appointments, waste money they can’t afford on Ubers or junker cars, and even lose their jobs, due to no fault of their own.

And the cause of this crisis is clear – neither DDOT nor SMART can hire or retain enough bus drivers – both are short roughly 100 drivers. You can’t run a bus without a driver, so any time a driver calls in sick, that’s one scheduled bus leaving riders stranded. Why? Low bus driver pay!

DDOT and SMART pay for new drivers is substantially lower than most similar bus agencies and lower than most other jobs requiring a commercial drivers’ license. Our report details numerous examples of each. 

TRU is calling on the region’s top leaders to get personally involved in resolving this crisis.

Mayor Duggan directly oversees DDOT and needs to lead on a strong deal.

County Executives Coulter, Evans, and Hackel appoint SMART’s Board of Directors and need to use their influence to resolve this crisis.