Blog: Why the bus is Detroit’s best kept secret

Low cost, clean and consistent busses get me around Metro Detroit

FAST SMART Bus. (SMART Bus)

DETROIT – For someone who lives in the Motor City, I just do not enjoy driving. When I first moved to Detroit, I didn’t bring my car with me because I thought that living downtown would offer me everything I needed. News flash: we’re not exactly there yet.

So I have learned how to get around by utilizing every form of public transportation available: MoGo, the QLINE, busses and eventually the People Mover when it opens this month.

When I tell people that I take the bus in Detroit, the look of shock on peoples’ faces are all the same.

“Is it safe? Is it clean? Is it even reliable?”

The answer is simply yes to all of these (most of the time).

I have lived in Los Angeles, San Diego and spend a lot of time in New York, Detroit’s busses are by far the best that I have been on. If you have not stepped inside one, you will find that it is shockingly clean and modern.

I was surprised at how connected the bus system here is to technology. I can use Google Maps to see bus schedules, which is great for planning out my trips. It even lets me know if a bus is delayed and will update me on estimated arrival times. When the bus is close enough, Google Maps will even show me where the bus is on the map.

Best of all, it’s only $2 for a four-hour pass. I can even use the DART app to purchase my passes. This works exceptionally well for me since I rarely ever carry cash. The four hours are usually enough to get me roundtrip, so I’m packing in the miles all for $2. This value is unbeatable.

I usually take the bus to do groceries in Highland Park where the nearest Aldi is located. It’s about a 30-minute ride and a straight shot up Woodward.

On weekends, I will oftentimes take the bus to Somerset Mall. It takes a little over an hour, but it drops me off right at Somerset South.

On several occasions, I have taken the bus to meet up with friends at a bar. If it gets too late, I will usually take a Lyft home, but I get pleasure in knowing that it only cost me $2 one way.

I travel a lot and as someone who has flown in and out of LAX for most of my life (0/10 would not recommend), the option to take the bus to the airport is a godsend. For $2, I can get to DTW in less than 90 minutes on a direct bus from my apartment. The bus stop is also conveniently across the street, so I don’t have to lug around my suitcase very far. I have saved so much money from avoiding expensive and unpredictable rideshares, or even parking at the airport.

Using the bus does have its challenges. There are cities that are simply inaccessible. I cannot get to IKEA in Canton from downtown. I am beholden to the bus schedule which can get funky on weekends. I’m also limited in how much I can or want to carry with me.

But those are simply realities with any public transportation system. I have learned to find what I need in places where the bus has stops in and to spread out my groceries to essentials for the week.

I learned a lot about Detroit through the bus. Not only did it give me my first look at the geography of the city, but it helped me understand the people as well. It was where I first learned how willing the people in Detroit are to lend a helping hand.

For me, there is a simple joy in being able to hop on a bus, zoning out for a bit, and reaching a new destination. I don’t have to worry about gas, potholes or even other drivers. The frequency and reliability of the bus system makes it an easy choice for me. So until downtown Detroit finally gets a Target, you will probably find me on a bus after work.


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