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Detroit officials cheer grant money for new buses

Sarah Hulett
Michigan Radio

Detroit officials are celebrating news of a $26 million federal grant to help the city acquire 50 new buses.

Nearly everyone admits that Detroit’s bus service continues to be terrible.

Trips that should take a half hour or less routinely take up to two hours or more.

So this new round of federal money to replace part of the city’s aging fleet is welcome news.

Lisa Franklin is an advocate for disabled Detroit bus riders, and represents the city for a new Regional Transit Authority.

She says the new buses are “a good start” – but won’t make a big difference right away.

“And with regional transit coming along as well, you have to give it some time, maybe about a year and a half or so,” said Franklin. We should absolutely see a change.”

City officials say more than a third of the current fleet is beyond its useful life span.

Mayor Mike Duggan says Detroiters aren’t looking for handouts – but they are looking to access opportunities.

“When 40% of the households in this city don’t have a car, all of the businesses and jobs that are coming back don’t mean anything,” said Duggan. If there is going to be true opportunity in this city, we need a first-class transit system.”

Officials say it usually takes about two years to actually get the buses.

However, Detroit hopes to speed up that process.

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.