DETROIT (WWJ) – Days after the head of Detroit’s city transportation system was replaced because of chronically late buses, the new director has hit the ground running.
Detroit’s new Department of Transportation director Dan Dirks says he has two passions in life — buses and baseball. Dirks returned to Michigan to take the job and it’s going to take a little time, he concedes, but he appeared confident that D-DOT riders will see a system they can rely on, and one that will rank among the nation’s best. Dirks has been riding D-DOT buses, recently, learning firsthand the concerns of passengers. He’s also seeking employee input in identifying not only the problems, but solutions to those problems.
Complaints about attacks, both verbal and physical, against Detroit bus drivers haven’t gone unnoticed.
Gary Brown, Mayor Mike Duggan’s Group Executive for Operations says, “The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to get cameras on 250 buses. We’ve already piloted two buses, we know the cameras we want, we have the company on board. By the end of February we’ll have 50 buses that have eight different cameras that will cover everything on the inside of the bus and everything on the outside of the bus. And after February we’ll proceed to do the other 200 buses.”
Thirty-five sworn police officers will also make up a new transit security unit. The first recruits are expected to be on the job within 90 days.
Meantime, D-DOT mechanics won’t hesitate to say that their suggestions and requests for equipment in the past have not really counted for much. Mechanic Eric Lo Sr. has worked for D-DOT for 26 years.
“Over the years we have had a problem with the procurement of parts. Having the right parts to repair the coaches, number one. And when we sit down with management in the past, not this current administration, in the past it has fallen on deaf ears. It’s been a problem over the years, but hopefully now things will change,” says Lo.
The veteran bus mechanic is impressed with Dan Dirks’ appointment as D-DOT’s new director, as he’s someone with at least 25 years experience in public transportation.