Hank Winchester: With gas prices so high, I tried riding the bus. Here’s how it went

With gas prices so high and many reconsidering their transportation options, Local 4 consumer investigator Hank Winchester is taking the bus and sharing his experience.

DETROIT – My earliest memories of my Grandma Bommarito involve a city bus.

Her kids took her keys from her after she popped the curb and smashed into Mr. Baker’s front porch on Durnad Street. It was probably a wise move to give the car to her son, Joe.

From the that point on, she relied on the bus to get around town when her children weren’t available.

I spent a lot of time with my Grandma B when I was little, and taking the bus with her seemed magical. I love it and considered it a big adventure.

I remember it was loud, a rough ride, and you often took in a bit of exhaust, but I was with Grandma on an adventure. I believe the cost back then was less than a quarter. It seemed like the best deal in town.

Well, since Grandma B passed away, I’ll admit, my love affair with the bus fizzled out. I was fortunate enough to be able to afford a car and really didn’t give the bus a second look. Even when I lived in New York City briefly, I just walked. The bus seemed challenging and confusing to me.

Related: Metro Detroit gas prices are up, but public transit costs are the same: A look at options

Then, when I moved back home to Detroit, I never even considered public transit. This is, after all, the Motor City. We worship cars.

I hopped on the People Mover occasionally, and rode the QLINE, once. I just wanted to hear Carmen’s voice. Public transport in Detroit didn’t seem to offer much.

Well, I’m here to admit. I was wrong. Have you jumped on a bus lately? This is not Grandma Bommarito’s bus y’all. Recently, at work, we were all chatting about how we were fed up with these insane gas prices and I chimed in… “I should ride the bus and see what it’s really like.”

Some thought I was kidding and others thought, “Hey, it’s gotta be better than paying $80 to fill the tank.”

So we picked a day to record my journey and show you what it was like. I will tell you, I was so pleasantly surprised.

First, technology has changed the experience before you even get on. You can track your buses journey using the app and you can also pay using the app. I imagine this is especially helpful in the winter when waiting for the bus has to be a big challenge.

You get on and the buses are clean, the drivers professional, and everyone is friendly. It felt like a carpool with friends.

Here’s what I didn’t expect. It was stress free.

I was playing on my phone (did I mention the buses have wifi?), and I wasn’t worried about my speed or the driver who cut me off. Or in reality, the driver I probably cut off. I’m not known for my skill behind the wheel.

Hank on the bus. (WDIV)

I was relaxed and enjoyed watching our beautiful city pass me by as we glided down Woodward Avenue. I made it downtown with time to spare before my shift started and my ride was $2. The ride in my own ride and stress on my car would have cost significantly more with the current gas prices.

Will I ride the bus everyday? No. I’m thankful for my car. Do I have a new appreciation for public transport in Detroit, yes!

I guess I now know why Grandma B wasn’t so upset when the kids took the car. She had the bus -- and now so do I. (Watch Hank’s full video report from the bus in the player above)

Related: Tracking gas prices in Metro Detroit: How to find cheapest, let us know what you find


About the Author:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.