A hopeless public transportation system is ultimately what ruined Detroit’s chance to become home to Amazon’s second headquarters, according to the company's regional leaders.
In the past year, Detroit has seen the opening of the Q-line, which rides along the Woodward corridor, along with improvements to the DDOT and SMART busses. Although there have been improvements to Detroit’s transportation system, many issues still remain.
The issues in Detroit's public transportation are large enough to turn away a $430 billion company from settling down in Detroit. So what exactly are the issues with Detroit’s transportation system?
One factor is the long history of the car culture in Detroit.
The influence of the automotive industry has made Detroit into a city that is largely car-dependent. The importance of owning a car in Detroit has aided in creating a insufficient public transportation system. But the city is still in desperate need for a better transportation system due to a quarter of households not owning a car.
Detroit also has many short distance transportation systems such as the People Mover, Q-line and pre-arranged shuttles. However, the system that serves the whole city is not efficient and lacks a cohesive mobility plan. The overall lack of a mobility plan for the county or municipal busses has created longer and more complicated commutes for people.
Allahnah Turner, a Wayne State University student, uses the Detroit bus system five times a week on her commute to campus from Southfield. The commute with a car from Southfield to Detroit takes about 20 to 30 minutes depending on traffic. However, Turner’s commute with public transportation takes her an hour and a half everyday, she said.
With the introduction of the SMART and FAST bus systems on Jan. 1, the bus routes decreased from running every 45 minutes to every 30 minutes during peak hours, according to maps by SMART.
Turner still criticizes the frequency times and said, “I would fix the frequency of the busses. Some routes only run every half an hour, and I feel like it should be every 15 minutes, because people have places to go.”
Detroit lacks in the amount of routes and advertising busses that other cities have. Detroit ranks eighth in the country in carless households, so it is crucial for public transportation to have enough busses, routes, and be timely in order to fully serve the needs of the people in Detroit.
In comparison, cities such as Baltimore has 105 bus routes, along with being integrated with the light rail, makes Baltimore’s transportation system cohesive and efficient.
Regine Beauboeuf is the head of the engineering firm, Fishbeck Thompson Carr & Huber, and said that integration between the Q-line, DDOT busses, SMART busses, and the People Mover would give Detroit a unique opportunity to be cohesive as a system and convenient for the movement of people.
According to Beauboeuf, the local and state government need to come together and listen to the people to formulate a plan for the city that is inclusive and adequate.