DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit City Council has unanimously passed a proposal from Councilwoman Saunteel Jenkins that would suspend furlough days for bus mechanics. This, so more buses can be repaired and put on the streets.
“We have to be able to get these buses fixed,” said Jenkins. “Citizens don’t really care about this argument. They don’t really care whose fault it is. They just want to get to work, to school and to their doctors’ appointments.”
“For the past three months they’ve been literally held hostage while we point fingers about whose fault this is,” she said.
Citizens have been waiting for hours at bus stops in Detroit while Mayor Dave Bing accused city mechanics of deliberately slowing down repairs to disabled buses and the union accused the mayor of laying off too many mechanics.
Jenkins’ resolution urges Bing to hire private contractors to fix the buses if the problem is not corrected in 30 days.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, council President Charles Pugh and Councilman Ken Cockrel criticized Bing for what they see as a lack of leadership when it comes to the city’s bus crisis.
“I got cussed out by a man waiting at the bus stop who’d been waiting at the bus stop for three hours. We need him [Bing] there to show that urgency. We need to see some leadership,” said Pugh.
“At some point you’ve got to get out there and gauge the people who put you in office and say this is what (he’s) doing to deal with the problem. Frankly I haven’t seen it,” Cockrel said.
Jenkins said she knows the plan to use private contractors won’t be a popular one.
“Outsourcing is a dirty word, but for me, three-and-a-half hours at a bus stop is an even dirtier sentence,” she said. “I mean, it’s difficult to reconcile, but if more than one-third of Detroiters are relying on buses, we’re talking about over 200,000 people who can’t get where they need to be.”