Driver shortage leaves Detroit Department of Transportation buses behind schedule

Officials say department dropped about 100 operators during COVID

Driver shortage leaves DDOT buses behind schedule

DETROIT – Before the pandemic, on-time arrivals for the Detroit Detroit of Transportation (DDOT) were rising; however in March 2020, everything started to change.

Drivers started leaving and the buses they drove weren’t out on routes.

“I come all the way from Southwest Detroit, so I catch three buses a day to get here,” said Joshua Allen-Robinson.

Read: Plans for State Fair transit center in Detroit draw mixed reaction from neighbors

Allen-Robinson said he depends on DDOT to get to work and home, but lately things haven’t been running smoothly.

“Just yesterday, I had to call off because the Van Dyke bus wasn’t running. My Fort Street bus usually never shows up,” he said.

Mikel Oglesby, DDOT executive director of transit, said that’s because they are short bus operators.

“I need at least 80 new bus operators,” Oglesby said.

Oglesby said the drop came during COVID. They had about 490 bus operators.

“We dropped about 100 operators during that period of time. We’re in the process of getting 100 back. We adjust the schedule and it goes back to how many operators we have,” he said. “If we don’t have enough operators for the pieces of work, what we do is we offer the OT and see if we can cover it with that. And if that doesn’t work out, then we miss trips.”

But bus rider Tracie Carter said she can’t take that chance.

“I’m going to get up and I’m going to start walking. If I see you coming, then I’ll catch you,” Carter said.


About the Author:

Larry Spruill Jr. joined the Local 4 News team in January 2018. Prior, he worked at WJAX in Jacksonville, Florida. Larry grew up as a military kid because his father is a retired Chief of the United States Air Force.