Detroit Department of Transportation Bus Timelines Report

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, November 24th, 2011


TRU’s Research

To supplement media reports, the personal experience of TRU members, and anecdotes from other bus riders, we conducted analysis of our own. During the week of October 17- 21, 2011, TRU volunteers compared the published schedule for eight major DDOT bus routes with the actual time each bus departed from pre-selected checkpoints including Rosa Parks Transit Center, State Fair Transit Center, Fairlane Center, Northland Center and bus stops located in downtown Detroit. In all, we monitored the actual performance of nearly 4,000 scheduled bus runs.

On-time performance varied dramatically – from a high of just 66% to an outrageous low of 10%. Volunteers documented the on-time performance as:

  • Early: Departed before the scheduled time
  • On-Time: Departed within 0-5 minutes of the scheduled time
  • Late: Departed 6-15 minutes after the scheduled time
  • Very Late: Departed more than 16 minutes after the scheduled time
  • Didn’t Arrive: No bus showed up before the next scheduled time

The likelihood of a DDOT rider experiencing an on-time bus is just 50% – no better than flipping a coin. Transportation Riders United (TRU) has graded the on-time performance of DDOT buses. DDOT has earned a failing grade – an F.

DDOT has consistently failed to provide riders with reliable bus service according to its published schedules and its Service Standards. For truly on-time bus service that meets the needs of the bus riding public, a bus should to depart either at the time on the published schedule or within the next five (5) minutes. In this regard, DDOT has utterly failed.

Failing DDOT’s Riders

An example of the unpredictable and erratic bus performance was observed by a volunteer on October 19 in downtown Detroit. She observed the #16 Dexter bus between 4:00 – 6:00 pm. During this 2-hour period that bus was scheduled to run approximately every 12 minutes and thus should have had 13 runs. The Dexter bus was on-time for 6 runs or less than 50%; 3 runs were Early; 1 was Late and 4 buses Didn’t Arrive.

Based upon our initial analysis of the observation data, we were unable to identify trends or patterns regarding which routes or which days of the week or times of day were more or less problematic. On the whole, the likelihood of a DDOT rider experiencing an on- time bus is just 50% – no better than flipping a coin.

In additional to whether the bus was on-time, our volunteers also tracked whether the bus traveled at all, before the next scheduled bus. An astounding 20-50% of scheduled buses did not show at all! For example, the #53 Woodward bus on October 21 didn’t arrive 7 out of 12 runs. That means that riders waited for a bus that 58% of the time didn’t show up.

To make matters worse, there is no communication from DDOT. When waiting at a stop, DDOT riders have no way of knowing whether their bus is just running a few minutes behind or whether it is running at all that day. Passengers are unable to make a decision to seek alternative transportation (assuming an alternative is available to them at all). When the next bus arrives, it is all too often crowded or even over-crowded and the people waiting may not be able board. When overcrowded buses arrive, people using wheelchairs and scooters are often left behind.

Download Full Report (PDF): Transportation Riders United Detroit Department of Transportation Bus Timelines Report

About TRU
“The mission of Transportation Riders United is to improve and promote transit in greater Detroit in order to restore urban vitality, ensure transportation equity and improve quality of life. TRU believes the Detroit region needs a balanced transportation network because transportation investments shape our future. Founded in 1999, TRU was incorporated in 2001 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization.”

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