Transit Impact Story: Patty Fedewa

“I raised my daughter on transit”

Patty’s daughter went everywhere with her, nearly always on the bus

Patty Fedewa is a long-time champion of public transit, having previously served as President of Transportation Riders United. A Detroit homeowner and transit rider since 2001, she knows firsthand what good transit service can do for a person. It has enabled her to raise a daughter in the City and have a distinguished career as a labor relations lawyer.

“It’s how I get to work, it’s how I get across town,” said Patty. “I raised my daughter on transit – she doesn’t take transit to school anymore because it’s just not available. We have all these people who run into us at the grocery store who say ‘Hey, how’s your daughter doing?’ because we used to ride the bus together.”

Patty is a resident of the West Village and commutes daily to the McNamara Federal Building in downtown Detroit via bus or bike. She frequents the #5 Van Dyke/Lafayette as well as the #9 Jefferson. She remarked that she had been taking transit since the days when the Van Dyke route still had #48. She occasionally rides the #4 Woodward and #2 Michigan.

“I still ride transit now, It’s a daily thing,” continues Patty. “I don’t have my own car and for the last 15 years I haven’t had my own car. My husband has a car, but believe me he’s the one with the car.”

Public transit is incredibly important, especially in a region like Metro Detroit. Here, an estimated ⅓ of city households don’t own a car, according to a 2017 University of Michigan study. Furthermore, 31.8% of Detroiters fall below the federal poverty line, according to recent Census data. But public transit doesn’t just benefit the poor or people with no cars. It benefits everyone who rides it and even those who don’t use it. 

“I want transit to be there when I need it,” she continued. “I don’t want to sit there and jump through extra hoops to ride transit. I used to really think ‘Trains! Trains! Trains! I’d love to see more rapid transit, but if we could have more express bus service and more frequent service it would solve a lot of my issues.”

“I want transit to be there when I need it”

Patty says she rides the bus for the majority of her commutes to work. Though she bikes during the summer to work and occasionally borrows her husband’s car, she still relies on transit to get her where she needs to go.

“A big thing is not paying for parking and not dealing with parking,” said Patty. “That’s a huge part of it for me. Sometimes you can get directly where you want to go without having to do that dance. Another big advantage is not having to think about protecting my car. When things are running right, it takes one layer of stress off of you.”

But, things aren’t always running right. According to data from a TRU report published in July, a whopping 38% of DDOT buses were late this year. An eye-watering 5-10% failed to show up at all. Like many Detroiters, Patty has been affected by this.

“Since COVID,” continued Patty, “service has been even worse. Service was already insufficient before COVID. The Mayor doesn’t seem to have any plan to do anything about it. He won’t lead on transit, and he won’t pay the drivers. We could have good transit in this region, if we choose to. We have a Mayor who knows how to get things done. However, right now we have a Mayor who chooses not to and we have a suburban community that chooses not to.”

“We could have good transit in this region, if we choose to”

Despite recent big wins for SMART expansion and DDOT paratransit services, Patty’s story shows how reliable transit still eludes Detroiters. Elected officials need to hear directly from transit riders & supporters, and do the right thing by fixing the no-show bus crisis. If you’re interested in helping TRU fight for better bus service, email us at