DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit is ending early morning bus service as part of an effort to cut about $11 million in costs and improve the city’s problematic public transportation system.
The city on Wednesday announced that two public hearings would take place Feb. 24 to discuss the changes, which include ending bus service between 1 a.m. and 4 a.m.
Some other bus routes will also be eliminated.
– View a complete rundown of bus service changes (.pdf format) –
The city estimates that cutting early morning service would affect 500 customers over nine routes.
In a release out Thursday, the city reports only 15 customers per hour utilize Detroit Department of Transportation bus service between 1 and 4 a.m., representing .5 percent of DDOT’s daily riders and 6 percent of DDOT’s daily costs.
Detroit Chief Operations Officer Chris Brown said changes were designed to impact the smallest numbers of DDOT’s average of 104,000 daily riders.
“The road could be bumpy as we implement some of these changes, but we’re committed to making it happen,” Brown said. “We’re doing this to improve our efficiency and keep fare rates the same,” Brown said in a statement.
The cuts will take effect March 3.
Mayor Dave Bing is not commenting.
WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey caught up with bus riders who were hearing of the news, and they were not happy. Percy McPeters said there are 17 people in his workplace who depend on the midnight buses to get them home from work.
“That’s a $25 cab fare when we could just pay to ride the bus. And a majority of us ride it and I mean, it’s not only just men, it’s women too. You’re not only cutting that and hurting us, but you’re also putting these women’s lives in danger from being out here this late when they’re just trying to live and survive … It’s not a problem that doesn’t have a solution. We just have to find the right solution and not a quick-fix scheme,” said McPeters.
Waiting for a bus at the Southfield terminal, John Johnson had a hard time comprehending the situation.
“I don’t understand it. A lot of people aren’t able to afford cars so they need to take the bus. This is all some of us have. It’s going to hurt everyone,” said Johnson.
But those like Greg Vee are already feeling the pain of reduced service along the city’s bus routes.
“Right now they’re still going on Saturdays but it don’t start until about 6 or 7 in the morning. I start at six so I have no choice to take a cab or be fired,” said Vee.
Others questioned if those in charge are thinking about how the move might affect the average citizen.
“Sometimes I wonder if the elected officials we pick, if they’re the right ones,” said one bus rider.
Meantime, the union representing DDOT bus drivers called on city residents to flood the mayor’s office and city council members with phone calls objecting to the planned layoffs of over 160 bus drivers and 60 mechanics. Read more, here.
Stay with CBSDetroit.com and WWJ Newsradio 950 for the latest.