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Bing: We'll do "whatever it takes" to fix bus crisis

Detroit Mayor Dave Bing says he’ll do “whatever it takes” to get the city out of its current bus crisis.

Pressure is mounting for Bing to do something about the problem, which has some city residents waiting more than three hours for busses. Bing admits that amounts to a “crisis.”

“As we look at people standing in line for two or three hours waiting for a bus…at children trying to get to school on time in the cold weather, waiting for a bus…if we look at people trying to get to their jobs on a daily basis waiting for a bus…that is unacceptable.”

Bing says the basic problem is an aging bus fleet coupled with a lack of money.

But that doesn’t explain why the problem has grown much worse in the past two months. In the past, city officials have also blamed union mechanics, who they say are protesting job and pay cuts with a deliberate work slowdown.

But after a meeting with union and transportation officials Wednesday, Bing didn’t want to assign blame.

“I made it very clear that all of us have got to work a lot harder than we’re working,” he said. “That’s not to say that people have not worked hard, but it’s not good enough.”

The meeting followed a Detroit City Council hearing on the issue Tuesday. The Council passed a resolution suggesting emergency contracts to fix busses if they are not back on the road within 30 days. It also encourages the mayor to end the furlough days of mechanics.

Bing wasn’t specific about what actions will be taken, but says “nothing is off the table.”

He says officials will continue to meet to resolve the maintenance issues keeping busses off the road, and suggests bus riders should see “improvements” within the next month.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Radio in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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