Detroit mayor promises to use emergency powers to fund paratransit system

‘I have no explanation for how council members could turn down the contract, go on vacation’

DETROIT – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan says he’s ready to step in and use his emergency powers to fund the city’s paratransit system.

The decision comes after the Detroit City Council failed to approve a new expanded contract as the old contract expires at the end of the year.

The Detroit City Council and their flip-flopping is the reason for all of the significant repercussions that are taking place.

On Nov. 22 city council voted to expand and improve its free ride system for Detroit’s disabled, but then the city council took a re-vote and voted down the $49 million deal.

Read: City council votes down paratransit contract on Detroit’s west side

The move actually cut 700 rides a day for Detroit’s disabled to places like the doctor’s office, grocery shopping, and work. Moments after the vote went down, the United States Department of Transportation alerted Detroit that it was getting dangerously close to violating the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The move opened Detroit to fines and lawsuits because the city’s most vulnerable are being left without the necessary transportation that they so desperately need.

“I’m not going to let the disabled of this city be stranded Jan. 1,” said Duggan. “I will be exercising the emergency powers to put emergency contracts in place.”

Read: Advocate shares frustration after rides were cut for disabled Detroiters

A new letter from the Department of Transportation is urging Detroit and the city council to have a special session to fix the problem. Detroit City Council voted down the transit deal and then went on an extended holiday recess.

“I have no explanation for how council members could turn down the contract and go on vacation for two months and leave people stranded, but we’ll take action by the end of the week on an emergency basis,” Duggan said.

“Greetings. We are celebrating Mayor Duggan’s announcement today that he is taking action to assure that all Detroit paratransit rides will be scheduled and delivered from now into the new year, and that there will be no interruptions in service. If you are interested in our immediate reactions, please contact one of our following representatives

Lisa Franklin, Founder of Warriors On Wheels: (313) 778-9170.

Richard Clay, National Federation of the Blind Detroit/Michigan Board Member: (313) 247-3301

Stephen Handschu, National Federation of the Blind Detroit Legislative Committee Chair: 773-209-4539.

Robert Parsons, National Federation of the Blind of Michigan President: 269-216-8640.

Thank you very much for your time and assistance."

The National Federation of the Blind Detroit Chapter

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Brandon Carr is a digital content producer for ClickOnDetroit and has been with WDIV Local 4 since November 2021. Brandon is the 2015 Solomon Kinloch Humanitarian award recipient for Community Service.