people inside the bus
Detroit City Council Member Latisha Johnson talks with transit advocate Michael Cunningham on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022, during a ride on a Detroit Department of Transportation bus on the far east side. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)

The Detroit Department of Transportation has drawn the ire of some Detroiters who rely on the service daily as it struggles with a driver shortage and curtailed routes.

District 4 City Councilwoman Latisha Johnson and her staffers on Monday got a firsthand look at the issues as they joined riders on the Mack Avenue bus route in her district. BridgeDetroit’s Bryce Huffman also went along, talking with Johnson about her priorities for improving the service and hearing from riders about long wait times and the need for more late-night and weekend service. 

two people at a bus stop
District 4 Councilwoman Latisha Johnson talks with a resident in a bus shelter on the east side as she waits for a Mack Avenue bus on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. The council member said she decided to ride the bus line after hearing concerns from a constituent about long wait times. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)

Johnson, a first-term councilwoman, said she rode the city bus to school every day when she was younger. She’s urging other members of Detroit City Council to ride DDOT bus routes in their districts.

DDOT has plans to use $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for driver-retention bonuses and to address safety worries and make certain upgrades. 

Mikel Oglesby, DDOT’s executive director, updated council members Tuesday on priorities identified by residents and advocates during a series of community input sessions earlier this year. Topping the list, he said, are bus shelters, incentives for bus operators, bus stop seating and transit hubs. 

people inside bus
DDOT bus riders on the Mack Avenue route on the city’s east side on Monday, Oct. 3, 2022. (BridgeDetroit photo by Bryce Huffman)

In response to concerns over wait times, Oglesby stressed Tuesday that the department is down over 100 drivers and has restructured its routes to cope with the staffing shortfall. 

Hear from Johnson and some frequent east side bus riders here:

Bryce Huffman is a reporter for BridgeDetroit. He was formerly a reporter for Michigan Radio, and host of the podcast, Same Same Different.

Join the Conversation


  1. Love the audio component!

    We really do need a heavy focus on transportation here in Detroit. It’s the key to our city’s success.

    We should also be looking for how to prioritize buses on the street to make them go faster. This driver shortage isn’t going to end anytime soon, but we can overnight set up dedicated lanes and stop bump outs so buses don’t have to get out of traffic to pick up a rider. Easy and cheap.

    From there, we need signal priority throughout the system. No bus should ever have to be stopped at a red light.

    Doing these things would alleviate the pressures on the system.

  2. Went to NY recently and rode the busses and Subway as did everyone else. Very reliable and safe. Lack of reliable, available transit is keep Detroit from becoming a more vibrant and sought after city.

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